When a valuable item is destroyed or defiled one usually responds to the loss with anger. It may have been torn, cut, smashed, exploded, sprayed upon or otherwise changed. The word "vandalism" is frequently used to also define addition of graffiti to a wall, building, fence, train, truck, etc. Sculptures of reviled political leaders are frequently also overthrown and vandalized. Indeed, even artists are known to have acted destructively. The destruction of a work of art is shocking. How could someone deliberately tear a work of art to pieces?
Hans Hofmann, the noted abstract German-American artist and great teacher taught his students that every millimeter of a painting is important to the whole work of art. If it did not play a significant part in the whole work, it weakened the work. So it was necessary for the artist to add or subtract from the work to bring it to the point where it felt right. Therefore, he might take a student's work off his easel and add some charcoal marks of his own to show how the forces at work in a drawing could be changed. Sometimes Mr. Hofmann would take the poor drawing in his large solid hands and tear it mercilessly. He paid no attention to the gasps of onlookers.
You see, if it is not right, it is not precious. He gathered the pieces together and placed them on the drawing board in slightly shifted positions so, possibly, one knee of the model would be made to jut to the side while her shoulder would be shifted to the opposite direction, thus creating a dynamic composition. Now it looked right!
Actually, he was also teaching the student that there is no intrinsic value in a poor drawing. However, a poor drawing, torn and recomposed into a dynamic work, one that shows push and pull, is exciting. By destroying, vandalizing a student's work he turned the student's work into a valuable drawing.
As a student in Music & Art H.S. I was taught that there was a difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism. Destructive criticism was designed to hurt the artist while constructive criticism could improve the work if it were properly applied. Destructive criticism was to be ignored and constructive criticism should be examined. What if vandalism (destruction) was also constructive?
When I took the photo-poster of Marilyn Monroe and painted a blue burqa over her form I hid her charms. The black marker lines drawn over her silhouette reflect her timorous feelings caused by the degradation her image has suffered. The original support, the photo poster, by being vandalized by me, has another meaning and the finished product has become my visual expression, another, different, work of art.
It was Michelangelo who said that he destroyed the marble to create a statue. The creative act of destruction can have many sources, many materials. To create, the artist is also destroying something.