Art Quote for the Day

IMG_4314The other day this phrase passed through my brain. ” I’m a happy idiot”

Huh? What?

Well, it occurred to me after doing what is most probably the 100 th demonstration on how to mix all the colors on a color wheel using colored pencils that I am totally enthralled with that whole process. No matter how many times I create a color wheel, using colored pencils, or paint, or pastels, or even cut paper, it’s like magic to me every time it’s completed. So, the more I thought about it, it occurred to me that no matter how many times I demonstrate shading with graphite pencils, or how to blend brushstrokes with oil paint, or how salt thrown onto wet watercolor creates a grainy texture I’m like a child seeing it for the first time. It’s absolutely and totally magical to me. I never get tired of it.

I’ve always been very good at doing repetitive tasks. I used to fold arty T-shirts, hundreds of dozens a day, found it tiring but also satisfying in an achievement kind of way, i make Christmas ornaments out of paper, dozens and dozens  the same way , over and over. I don’t find this kind of activity boring. Actually I think it’s kind of meditative…… the muscle memory achieved by the repetitive motion frees up my brain for thinking about other stuff.

So, everyday I teach…… every semester the lessons stay basically the same and I give the same demonstrations, fortunately with as much enthusiasm as the first time I ever did them. The resulting art work achieved by the students is the big payoff. they do amazing things and ITS NEVER THE SAME THING TWICE!  It’s like Christmas day opening presents when every new project is completed and turned in.

I am a happy ,( maybe idiot is the wrong word after all) ,  child in a grown up’s body – maybe? Maybe no qualifier is necessary …. I’m just so very happy when I’m making art and showing others how to make art as well.

Art Quote for the Day

FIELD AND VISION

For Mark Rothko ( 1903 – 1970 ) , immense scale was a way of immersing the viewer in the picture:  “However you paint the larger picture, you are in it. It isn’t something you command.”

This is not sheer hubris.  Rothko wanted to make works that wrought a transcendent effect, that dealt with spiritual concerns: “Paintings must be like miracles,” he once said. With Barnett Newman and Clyfford Still, Rothko represents, in the words of art critic Robert Hughes, the “theological side” of Abstract Expressionism.

Rothko and Newman worked with vast fields of unbroken color, without any figurative reference points at all.  In principle at least, there was nothing in these works for the viewer to respond to except raw visual impression, the hue and luminosity of the paint itself.  This was Kandinsky’s vision taken to its logical extreme: the object had disappeared entirely , and the only thing left was color. As the  strength of the effect was considered porportional to the size of the image, these painters found it necessary to work on a large scale.  The have become known as the Color Field group.

Yet something of the figurative remains if the canvas is not simply monochrome.  The eye and brain seem to demand it; they conspire to construct forms from the juxtaposed fields of color, just as Leider warns.  Rothko’s  TWO OPENINGS IN BLACK OVER WINE (1958),  becomes a window in a dark room through which one sees the last glimmering of a burgundy dusk.  OCHRE AND RED ON RED ( 1954) ,  has echoes of  landscape simply by virtue of the horizontal format of the color field: we are looking out into the shimmering heat haze of a desert.

BRIGHT EARTH – Art and the Invention of Color by Philip Ball

Art Quote for the Day

Begin by painting your shadows light. Guard against bringing white into them; it is the poison of the picture, except in the lights. Once white has dulled the transparency and golden warmth of your shadows, your color is no longer luminous but matte and gray.
-attributed to Rubens

Dark is the basic tone of Rembrandt’s paintings, and darkness occupies a large area in them…. But how full of life is such darkness! Beginning with the most glowing middle tones of brown and yellow, they are gradually deepened through glazes and accents and made so unutterably rich in values!”
-Max Doerner (1949), The Materials of the Artist

Art Quote for the Day

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

Art Quote for the Day

Q: Now I hardly like to ask what significance painting can stil have, in relation to that responsibility of grasping reality.

A: It’s hard to say whether – as people do sometimes assume – painting in the past had more effect and more reality, on the grounds that it was better understood, or more popular, or was always on view in the churches to everyone.  But painting still has a reality and an effect now. It is shown and bought and discussed, and quite a lot of effort goes into all of this .  And so long as the art  justifies the effort, by being interesting enough, then in a sense that will do for now.

Q: It might be possible for pictures to launch something like a leap in perception or in consciousness.  Someone might suddenly look at things differently, react to them with more doubts, or with more involvement.  Indifference might be overturned by pictures.

A: I believe it might. But I’ve got nothing to say on that subject.

Q:  You have no desires in that direction yourself:

A:  Of course I have – it just doesn’t do any good to take on that kind of elevated responsibility.  We all know, don’t we, what well-intentioned paintings look like.

Q: Kasper Konig once showed your figurative paintings – the cycle 18 October 1977 – and abstract paintings in direct succession, in order to show that the theme is the same.

A: He was right to do that.  Even so, it’s difficult, because figurative paintings are always more attractive than abstract ones.  As soon as there are persons or objects to be seen, you get more interest.

Q: In 1968, in the period of the Grey Pictures and the Four Panes of Glass, there is a double panel called WAY THROUGH. It  gave me a sense of a sacrifice, in the joyous, pagan sense of the word; giving something up and getting something in return.  Did it feel like leaving something behind you, shaking something off, slipping away from it, in order to get to something different?

A: Certainly. And for that you always have to give something up, or destroy it, or scratch it out – as in this little abstract here.

Q: Let’s stay with scraping off for a moment. Is this removal of painti an agressive thing?

A: Yes, certainly.

Q: It has something to do with injury.

A:  Yes, with injury and with taking something that has been made and destroying it, subtracting it, scratching it out.  And then the pleasant feeling that you can get something else in return.

The Daily Practice of Painting – Gerhard Richter

Art Quote for the Day

12 September 1990
Accept that I can plan nothing.
Any thoughts on my part about the ‘construction’ of a picture are false, and if the execution works, this is only because I partly destroy it,or because it works in spite of everything – by not detracting and by not looking the way I planned.
I often find this intolerable and even impossible to accept, because, as a thinking, planning human being, it humiliates me to find out that I am so powerless. It casts doubt on my competence and constructive ability. My only consolation is to tell myself that I did actually make the pictures – even though they are a law unto themselves, even though they treat me any way they like and somehow just take shape. Because it’s still up to me to determine the point at which they are finished, (picture-making consists of a multitude of Yes/No decisions, with a YES to end it all). If I look at it that way, the whole thing starts to seem quite natural again – or rather Nature-like, alive- and the same thing applies to the comparison on the social level.

The Daily Practice of Painting – Gerhard Richter

Art Quote for the Day

Interview with Sabine Schutz (cont)

Q: In 1976 you began to paint abstract pictures, because you wanted something that you cxouldn’t visualize in advance. In doing so, you invented a method that was absolutely new to you. Was that an experiment of some kind?

A: Yes. It began in 1976, with small abstract paintings that allowed me to do what I had never let myself do: put something down at random. And then, of course, I realized that it never can be random. It was all a way of opening a door for me. If I don’t know what’s coming – that is, if I have no hard-and-fast image, as I have with a photographic original- then arbitrary choice and chance pay an important part.

Q: How do you manage to direct chance in such a way that a highly specific picture with a specific statement comes out of it – because that is your stated intention, isn’t it?

A: No, I don’t have a specific picture in my mind’s eye. I want to end up witha picture that I haven’t planned.This method of arbitrary choice, chance, inspiration and destruction may produce a specific type of picture, but it never produces a predetermined picture. Each picture has to evolve out of a painterly or visual logic: it has to emerge as if inevitably. And by not planning the outcome, I hope to achieve the same coherence and objectivity that a random slice of Nature (or a Readymade) always possesses. Of course, this is also a method of bringing in unconscious processes, as far as possible. I just want to get something more interesting out of it than those things that I can think out for myself.

The Daily Practice of Painting – Gerhard Richter

Art Quote for the Day

21 July 1989
Nature/Structure. There is no more to say. In my pictures I reduce to that. But ‘reduce’ is the wrong word, because these are not simplifications. I can’t verbalize what I am working on: to me, it is many layered by definition; it is what is more important, what is more true.
Everything you can think of – the feeblemindedness, the stupid ideas, the gimcrack constructions and speculations, the amazing inventions and the glaring juxtapositions – the things you can’t help seeing a million times over, day in and day out; the impoverishment and the cocksure ineptitude – I paint all that away, out of myself, out of my head, when I first start on a picture. That is my foundation, my ground. I get rid of that in the first few layers, which I destroy, layer by layer, until all the facile feeblemindedness has gone. I end up with work of destruction. It goes without saying that I can’t take any short cuts: I can’t start off right away with the work in its final state.
The Daily Practice of Painting – Gerhard Richter

Art Quote for the Day

18 May 1985

The way I paint, one can’t really paint, because the basic prerequisite is lacking: the certainty of what is to be painted , i.e. the Theme.  Whether I mention the name of Raphael or of Newman, or lesser lights such as Rothko or Lichtenstein, or anyone else, down to the ultimate provincial artist – all of them have a theme that they pursue, a ‘picture’that they are always striving to attain.

When I paint an Abstract Picture ( the problem is very much the same in other cases), I neither know in advance what it is meant to look like nor, during the painting process, what I am aiming at and what to do about getting there.  Painting is consequently an almost blind, desperate effort, like that of a person abandoned, helpless, in totally incomprehensible surroundings – like that of a person wh possesses a given set of tools, materials and abilities and has the urgent desire to build something useful which is not allowed to be a house or a chair or anything else that has a name; who therefore hacks away in the vague hope that by working in a proper, professional way he will ultimately turn out something proper and meaningful.

So I am as blind as Nature,who acts as she can, in accordance with the conditions that hinder or help her.  Viewed in this light, anything is possible in my pictures; any form , added at will, changes the picture but does not make it wrong.  Anything goes; so why do I often spend weeks over adding one thing? What am I making that I  want? What picture of what?

30 May 1985

No ideology. No religion, no belief, no meaning, no imagination, no invention, no creativity, no hope – but painting like Nature, painting as change, becoming, emerging, being-there, thusness; without an aim , and just as right, logical,perfect and incomprehensible  ( as Mozart, Schoenberg, Velazquez, Bach, Raphael, etc.) We can identify the causes of a natural formation, up to a point; the same causes have led to me and , in due course, to my  paintings, whose immediate cause is my  inner state, my happiness, my pain, in all possible forms and intensities, until that cause no longer exists

The Daily Practice of Painting by Gerhard Richter

Art Quote for the Day

Notes, 1985

20 February 1985

Of course I constantly despair at my own incapacity, at the impossibility of ever accomplishing anything, of painting a valid, true picture or even of knowing what such a thing ought to look like. But then I always have the hope that, if I persevere, it might one day happen.  And this hope is nurtured every time something appears, a scattered, partial, initial hint of something which reminds me of what I long for, or which conveys a hint of it – although often enough I have been fooled by a momentary glimpse that then vanishes, leaving behind only the usual thing.

I have no motif, only motivation. I believe that motivation is the real thing, the natural thing, and that the motif is old-fashioned, even reactionary ( as stupid as the question about the Meaning of Life.)

28 February 1985

Letting a thing come, rather than creating it – no assertions, constructions, formulations, inventions, ideologies – in order to gain access to all that is genuine, richer, more alive: to what is beyond my understanding.

At twenty: Tolstoy’s War and Peace. It doesn’t matter how rightly I remember, the only thing that stayed with me, that struck me at the time , was Kutuzov’s way of not intervening, of planning nothing, but watching to see how things worked out, choosing the right memoent to put his weight behind a development that was beginning of its own accord. Passivity was that general’s genius. { the Abstract Pictures: more and more clearly , a method of not having and planning the ‘motif ‘ but evolving it, letting it come.}

Using chance is like painting Nature – but which chance event, out of all the countless possibilities?

The Daily Practice of Painting by Gerhard Richter