22 September 1992
Scraping off. For about a year now, I have been unable to do anything in my painting but scrape off, pile on and then remove again. In this process I don’t actually reveal what was beneath. If I wanted to do that, I would have to think what to reveal (figurative pictures or signs or patterns): that is, pictures that might as well be produced direct. It would also be something of a symbolic trick:
bringing to light the lost, buried pictures, or something to that effect. The process of applying , destroying and layering serves only to achieve a more varied technical repetoire in picture-making.
8 December 1992
Artist: more of a title than a job description.It’s a word that still earns you considerable respect. People associate it with splendor and misery, with the attainment of freedom and with unexampled independence. Artists’ lives seem exceptional and exotic: they are ahead of their time; their works are among the loftiest works of the human race; their undaunted courage defies the incomprehension of the philistines and the persecution of the dictatorships. Artists are the truly creative ones, the geniuses; their fame and the fame of their works derives from their God-given talents and from their passionate devotion to their work, which they perform with intuition and intelligence on behalf of the community. They are always progressively minded and critical of society, always on the side of the oppressed; and rich or poor, they are always priviledged.
Understandably , everyone would rather be an artist than endure the shame of some ordinary occupation. But the artist’s image is going to be adjusted, sooner or later, when society realizes how easy it is to be an artist, and to set down (on or off the canvas) something that no one can understand and consequently no one can attack; how easy it is to inflate one’s own importance and put on an act that will fool everyone else and even oneself. By then, if not before, the title of artist will induce nausea.
The Daily Practice of Painting – Gerhard Richter