Art I LOVE: Michael Landy


Michael Landy breakdown

I have always had a  soft spot for the artist Michael Landy (b. uk 1963)  ever since I saw his ‘Breakdown’ l which was a sort of living installation.  This is the famous piece he did when he systematically got rid of all his possessions bit by it, breaking them down into tiny bits and disposing of them.   Even art work by his famous artist friends, like Damian Hirst, Tracy Emin went into the shredder – everything went.  His credit cards went, his car, everything he possessed, all went the same way.

Landy is one of the original YBA (Young British Artists) to emerge from Goldsmiths College in 1988 and featured in the famous Freeze exhibition.  Breakdown 2001 consisted of Landy taking over and old C and A store in Oxford Street London and turned into a kind of deconstruction factory.


He took all his possessions including art work, catalogued all the 7,227 items then along with his workers set about destroying everything.  he reduced everything to its basic components and shredded it in public.

Landy attracted a lot of visitors who watched this.  he received no money for it and was left with just bags of rubbish, which he didn’t make any money from and was left for a while afterwards without even a credit a credit card.

His latest project is called Art Bin and the artist calls it a ‘monument to creative  failure.‘  Artists and collectors are encouraged to dump their art in a huge bin….  In case you’ve not guessed, Landy’s  work is about consumerism and waste.  there’s a good article about Breakdown here

Find out why he did it and what the consequences where by watching this short video

Images from here

Video from illuminationstv

4 thoughts on “Art I LOVE: Michael Landy

  1. wow, I would secretly love to do that! What a powerful statement. Most of my possessions have been in storage for nearly a year now, and I pay for that privilege. I don’t even remember what’s there, and I don’t miss it.

    1. That is supposed to be the rule of thumb isn’t it – if you haven’t used it in a year you don’t need it. What a freeing thing to do – and also very scary! A hoarder like me……nah I could never do it. Really admire what he did there though:) what a statement eh!

  2. This was so interesting and true to the times! Most artists I know are notorious pack rats collecting and saving all for that day where it might become useful for something.

  3. I love the bit where he says it became like a job, going to work, destroying his possessions. Also, how some items went round and round before he could bring himself to part with them. I wonder if it changed him as a person? I suppose it must have done, quite traumatic really.

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