Art Quote for the Day

NOTES , 1992

1 June 1992
So-called circumstances cannot be changed by reason and insight; they change themselves in unpredictable ways, more or less spontaneously.
For instance, the realization of climatic damage and the prospect of a climatic catastrophe creates fear, but no effective action towards changing it.
On the contrary,fear is only a sign of our certainty that we can change nothing, and to palliate our fear we go in for displacement activities that make not the slightest possible difference; just like our ancestors, who faced up to Nature, armed with nothing but prayers and sacrificial offerings.
Nature goes on, as naturally merciless as ever. It creates the continual changes that we have always feared. We are helplessly and painfully at its mercy, and can do but palliate and comfort ourselves.
Palliation is always childish: a few green corners in the car parks. Comfort is always a lie: false promises of a beautiful future. That seems to sum us up.

3 June 1992
Consciousness is the capacity to know that we and others are and were and will be. It is therefore the capacity to visualize, and therefore the belief that keeps us alive. Without visualizing the future, and our own goals and tasks, we should vegetate and – since we lack the instinct that the animals have – we should perish. Belief ( view, opinion, conviction, hope, plan, etc. ) is thus our most important quality and capacity. And in the form of faith it can dominate us with such power and conviction that we transform it into destructive superstition. That is why we must always confront belief with scepticism and analysis.

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

Art Quote for the Day

28 August 1985

The Abstract Expressionists were amazed at the pictorial quality of their productions, the wonderful world that opens up when you just paint.  And in the evolution that led to Tachism, the Informel, this irrepressible image-quality – that is, this ability to communicate – showed itself even ( or rather especially) through the radically new, mechanical techniques of picture-production. It was as if these paintings were producing themselves; and the less deliberate the painters were about infusing them with their own content and mental images, the better the paintings became.  But the problem is this: not to generate any old thing with all the rightness ande spontaneity of Nature, but to produce highly specific pictures with highly specific messages  ( were it not for this,  painting would be the simplest thing in the world , since in Nature any old blot is perfectly right and correct.)

Even so , I have to start with the ‘blot’, and not with the new content ( if I could exempt myself from that, I should then have to look for an appropriate way of representing it).  With all the techniques at my command, especially those of elimination, I have to try to compel  something that I cannot visualize – something that goes further and is better and more right than my own pre-existing opinion and intention  – to appear as an existing picture of something.

Gerhard Richter – The Daily Practice of Painting

“Art Quote of the Day”

“One thing that can be securely said about “art” is that is  derives ultimately from an inborn human impulse to create.  Give children crayons , and they draw.  Give them blocks, and they build.  With clay, they model; with a knife and a piece of wood, they carve.  In the absence of such materials, children naturally find an outlet for their artistic  energy.  Sandcastles, snowmen, mudpies, scribbles, and treehouses are all products of the child’s impulse to impose created form on the world of nature . What  children create may vary according to their environment and experience, but they  invariably create something.  This is borne out by biographies and autobiographies of artists, which frequently record a drive to draw, paint, sculpt, or build in early childhood.  How such childhood drives are channeled depends on a complex interaction  between the nature of the society, the family, and the propensities and experience of the individual.

All the creative arts – including the visual arts – separate the human from the nonhuman.  Animals build only in nature, and their buildings are determined by nature. { Birds make nests, spiders weave webs, caterpillars spin cocoons, bees create hives } . Such constructions are genetically programmed by the species that make them, and do not express individual or cultural ideas.

People , on the other hand,  build in contrast to nature, even though buildings can be related to nature.

For example,because of its open spaces and unpolished surfaces, Stonehenge strikes viewers as naturally  related to the site. It also creates a visual transition between earth and sky. But it is distinct from nature in being man-made and in expressing cultural ideas. It reflects , for example, the belief that sones are imbued with a magic power to fertilize the earth.  And, on a broader level, Stonehenge exemplifies the monumental stone architecture that developed when people made the transition from Paleolithic hunting societies to agriculture.”

The Methodologies of Art – An Introduction , by Laurie Schneider Adams