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


Art Quote for the Day

17 March 1986

Crime fills the world, so absolutely that we could go insane out of sheer despair.  ( Not only in systems based on torture, and in concentration camps: in civilized countries, too, it is a constant reality; the difference is merely quantitative.  Every day, people are maltreated, raped, beaten, humiliated , tormented and murdered- cruel, inhuman, inconceivable. )  Our horror, which we feel every time we succumb or are forced to succumb to the perception of atrocity ( for the sake of our own survival, we protect ourselves with ignorance and by looking away), our horror feeds not only on the fear that it might affect ourselves but on the certainty that the same murderous cruelty  operates and lies ready to act within every one of us.

I just wanted to put it on record that I perceive our only hope – or our one great hope- as residing in art.  We must be resolute enough in promoting it. – I was interrupted just as I was detecting something like hope in the very realization that this cruelty is present in everyone – as if this very fact could be the starting-point of betterment, a key to the possibility of doing something.

Gerhard Richter – The Daily Practice of Painting

Art Quote for the Day

27 December 1985

Terrible and challenging, the blank canvas shows nothing – because the Something that is to take the place of Nothing cannot be evolved from Nothing, though the latter is so basic that one wants to believe in it as the necessary staring point.

It is not possible to visualize Nothing.  One way to gain some idea of that terrible state is through the impossibility of visualizing anything before, after or alongside the universe.  Now , since we very much want this visualization, but know it only as one that we can never have, it is an impossibility that we experience, existentially, as an absolute limit.

Thus, without a visualization, we stand  in front of the empty canvas and can respond – as ever – only with ignorance and madness, by making what statement we can:  a surrogate, basically, but one that we believe can somehow touch the impossible.  ( The advantage of my Grey Pictures  is that they seem to unmask all other statements, whether object-bound or abstract, as surrogates, and arbitrary ones at that.  In natural terms, however, they are still the same statements.)

The Abstract Pictures are no less arbitrary than all object-bound representations (based on any old motif, which is supposed to turn into a picture).  The only difference is that in these the ‘motif’ evolves only during the process of painting.  So they imply  that I do not know  what I want to represent , or how to begin; that I have only highly imprecise and invariably false ideas of the motif that I am to make into a picture; and therefore  that – motivated as I am solely by ignorance and frivolity – I am in a position to start.

Gerhard Richter – The Daily Practice of Painting