Art Quote for the Day

Anais Nin (cont.)

Back at her house by the sea, the painter stacked her paintings against the wall.  She now had to make the paintings look like her own art work again, which meant restituting to them the fantasmagorical figures of her night dreams.. The plain landscapes, the plain seascapes, the plain figures were all transformed to what they were before. The figures undulated, became bells, the bells rang over the ocean, the trees waved in cadences, the sinuosities of the clouds were like the scarves of Arab or Hindu women, veiling the storms.  Animals never seen before, descendents of the unicorn, offered their heads to be cajoled.  The vegetative patience of flowers was depicted like a group of twittering nuns, and it was the animals who had the eyes of the crystal gazer while people’s eyes seemed made of stalactites, Explosions of the myth, talkative garrulous streets, debauched winds, oracular moods of the sands, stasis of the rocks, attrition of stones, acerose of leaves, excresence of hours, sibylline women with a faculty for osmosis, adolescence like cactus, the corrugations of age, the ulcerations of love, people seeking to live two lives with one heart, inseparable twins.

She restored to the empty lanscapes all the mythological figures of her dreams, thinking of Rousseaus‘s words in answer to the question: ” Why did you paint a couch in the middle of the jungle?” And he had said: ” Because one has a right to paint one’s dreams.”

Art Quote for the Day

Anais Nin:

I cling to the world made by the artists because the other is full of horror, and I can see no remedy for it.  Diary entry , May , 1936

In the small towns of California the occasional absence of inhabitants, or animation, can give the place  the air of a still life painting.Thus it appeared for a moment in the eyes of a woman standing in the center of an empty lot.

She stood motionless and became , for a moment, part of the still life until a station wagon arrived and friends waved at her as they slowed down in front of her. She ran swiftly towards them and helped them open the back of the car and unload paintings and easels which they all carried to the empty lot.

The woman in slacks became intensely active, placing and turning the paintings at an angle where the sunlight would illumine rather than consume them.

Cars began to stop and people came to look.

One visitor said, ” These trees have no shadow.”

Another visitor said: ” The faces have no wrinkles. They do not look real”

” I have never seen a sea like this,” said another spectator

The woman in slacks laughed and said:  “a painting should take you to a place you have never seen before. You don’t always want to look at the same tree, the same sea, the same face every day, do you?”

But that was exactly what the people wanted to do.  They did not want to uproot themselves. They were looking for duplicates of their surroundings, a portrait of their grandmother or of their children.

The painter laughed . They liked her laughter. They ventured to buy a few of the smaller paintings, as if in diminutive sizes they might not be so dangerous or change the climate of their living room.

“I’m helping you to tell your house apart from your neightbor’s”  , said the painter.

The light grew dim. the painter and her friends packed the remaining paintings and drove away.

excerpt from COLLAGES by Anais Nin

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

5 May 1990

What sort of occupation is this, in which you can afford to be tired, or not in the mood – in which you can be off form for days or weeks on end and not do a thing?

24 October 1990

It doesn’t seem functional that we dwindle away and end our lives, just when we have learned so much.  And then the next generation has to spend decades slaving to regain the same standard of experience that has been reached long before.  I know that’s rubbish.

The much – maligned ‘art scene’ of the present day is perfectly harmless and even pleasant, if you don’t judge it in terms of false expectations.  It has nothing to do  with those traditional values that we hold high ( or that hold us high). It has virtually nothing whatever to do with art.  That’s why the ‘art scene’ is neither base, cynical nor mindless:  it is a scene of brief blossiming and bushy growth, just one variation on the never-ending round of social game-playing that satisfies our need for communication, alongside such others as sport, fashion, stamp-collecting and cat-breeding.  Art takes shape in spite of it all, rarely and always unexpectedly; art is never feasible.

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


Put an apple in a deep bowl.  You can see that the  apple takes up space inside the bowl. That perception of filled space is the primary characteristic of mass.

Visual mass consists of areas of color.  Whether you paint an apple or just a block of color, the result has visual mass.  Every characteristic of color – hue, value, intensity, color quality, temperature,apparent weight, and apparent distance – is a secondary characteristic of mass.

When you think of drawing, you usually think of line.  In order to suggest the shapes of forms, line drawing concentrates on the outline of the boundary edges or the contours of the object you’re drawing.  In contour drawing you always feel as if you’re touching the surface.  An object drawn with simple contours doesn’t carry very much visual weight.

However, there’s a different kind of drawing that’s more useful to the painter – mass drawing.  Mass drawing is more concerned with how shapes fill space than with the contour, or outline, of shapes.  You make a mass drawing with the side of your pencil, not the tip.  An object in mass drawing always feels as if it has weight.

Because it reports the lights and darks as they eye sees them, a mass drawing usually starts somewhere in the middle of the form and works its way out toward the edge, whereas a line drawing first finds the edge and then works its way in toward the center of the form.

Conversations in Paint – A Notebook of Fundamentals by Charles Dunn

Art Quote for the Day

taken from the book, Why Art Cannot Be Taught – A Handbook for Art Students by James Elkins:

“We retain the Romantic re-invention of the “master class”. In order to foster individuality and freedom ( and in part, to return to what they thought of as authentic medieval workshops), the Romantics expanded the advanced levels of instruction.  Students worked under masters, who helped them to develop their “individual genius”.  Comtemporary teachers adhere to this in that they do not try to foist a uniform standard on each student they advise. Instead they try to feel their way to an understanding of what each student is all about.  Teachers acknowledge that everyone has different ideals, directions, talents, and potentials.  That sense of individuality is quintessentially Romantic.

We still think – sometimes- that art cannot be taught.  Some Romantics thought that only  techniques could be taught in art school.  Hermann Grimm ( son of one of the brothers Grimm) held that art was “altogether unteachable”. Later in the century Whistler said, “I don’t teach art; with that I cannot interfere: but I teach the scientific application of paint and brushes.  These ideas are extreme , but they follow directly from the less radical idea that artists are individuals : if everyone is differernt then there’s no telling how art can be taught .The Romantics were the first to explore the idea that art cannot be taught, and some of their reason are also my reasons in this book.”

Art Quote for the Day


Do you work on one project at a time or several?

I usually start a group of paintings in case I get bored of ne or I exhaust my  interest in the imagery or the painting, and then I change.  Sometimes when I change, I actually feel like I want to change the way I am painting.  I don’t only want to paint with a brush that moves back and forth, four inches up and down. Then I will do something else, and I will paint a diffferent kind of painting, where I have to refocus myself.

So your process of working seven days a week for four months or so involves you staying concentrated and focused, and then you finish that particular group of paintings. Then it seems you just let all that go and forget it and a month later start from scratch?

Yes, that is what I try to do, that’s the plan if it works well. The fantasy and the pleasure of being in your studio have to do with the invention of yourself in different roles…. Earlier you asked, “Do you contemplate?” Well , you do  contemplate somehow, but lots of times I think I don’t contemplate.  I just come to the studio and work.  I come to the studio, and I want to feel like a little synchronized machine.  In that way I think of Warhol. Then , alot of times I think of myself as the amateur scientist who is concocting these strange potions and doesn’t know where they will lead and hopes that something new or different will come out of it.  Sometimes it does, and sometime it’s a mess.  You have all these head games that you can play with yourself while in your studio – sometimes you are just a kid playing and enjoying yourself, cutting school while everyone else is at work.

Do you have a motto or creed that as an aritst you live by?

I do.  LIfe is short. Life goes fast. And what I really want to do in my life is to bring something new, something beautiful, and something filled with light into the world.  I try to think of that every day so that I can remember why I am coming to my studio.  And then the other thing, just go , just show up.

Inside the Painter’s Studio by Joe Fig