There at least 600 to 1000 different sandpaintings that are recognized among the Navajos. They are not viewed as static objects, but as living things that should be treated with great respect. Today artists produce sandpaintings on boards with glue so that they are commodifiable, but originally they were used in healing ceremonies and destroyed upon completion of the ceremony.
In Tibetan sandpainting the construction process of a mandala takes several days, and is destroyed shortly after its completion. This is done as a metaphor for the impermanence of life.
Sandpainting is practiced during Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico and the United States. Streets are decorated with sand paintings that are later swept away, symbolizing the fleeting nature of life.
Art preservation and archiving is directly related to the commodification of art, but I've always felt like our obsession with art preservation also goes hand in hand with a cultural fear of mortality and change. We do not look favorably on such events when they produce anxiety and sadness.
I understand the importance of art preservation and archiving from a collector's point of view, but the topic weighs heavy on my mind. I'm a rather sloppy person. I try to be neat but it is difficult for me. I try to be gentle with my paintings, not touching the surfaces too much, using materials that won't discolor over time..following the "lean to thick" rule to avoid cracks in the surface. When shipping paintings I always double-box them with bountiful heaps of bubble wrap...but the truth is that all of that really sucks and goes against who I am as a person. I personally believe that nothing should be around forever and things should be allowed to decompose over time. Art being one of them.
A useful guide to preserving your artwork can be found here
How do collectors and art institutions deal with archiving an artist's work that is meant to be impermanent? Find out here