1. “I’ve been going to your concerts for ten years and feeling like an idiot all that time. Like an idiot! But I know in my heart you can do no wrong.”
-Willem De Kooning to Morton Feldman, from Off The Wall, A Portrait of Robert Rauschenberg (New York: Picador, 2005), by Calvin Tomkins, pg. 91.
2. “I don’t believe in art, I believe in artists.”
-Marcel Duchamp, from Off The Wall, A Portrait of Robert Rauschenberg (New York: Picador, 2005), by Calvin Tomkins, pg. 118.
3. “There is no excuse whatever for uncritically accepting what one takes over from others. For no thing is good or bad in itself, only as it relates to specific circumstances and to our own intentions. This fact means that there is nothing guaranteed or absolute about conventions; it gives us the daily responsibility of distinguishing good from bad.”
-Gerhard Richter, from The Daily Practice of Painting, Writings 1962-1993 (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995), edited by Hans-Ulrich Obrist, translated by David Britt, pg. 11.
4. “You get ‘way out there, so far out that after a time the audience begins to drop off, but you still have some of it left. If you tried to come back, you feel you’d lose everything, so the outwards direction continues, and it becomes hard to play just a regular thing anymore. The people who are out there with you wouldn’t accept it. ‘What happened to him?’ they’d ask one another. He sounds like Sammy Kay now.’ So you get out on that limb and you’ve got to stay there. You live or die on it.”
-Nat Pierce, from The World Of Swing, An Oral History of Big Band Jazz (Da Capo Press, 1974), by Stanley Dance, pg. 344.
5. “The material is never wrong. It’s only me that can be wrong.”
-Robert Rauschenberg, from Off The Wall, A Portrait of Robert Rauschenberg (New York: Picador, 2005), by Calvin Tomkins, pg. 194.
6. “…the art world was never as large or as expansive as it appeared, even in those boom years of the middle and later sixties. Alan Solomon, shortly before his death of heart disease in 1970, estimated the number of ‘significant activists’ at about two dozen artists, ‘three or four dealers, four or five critics, five or six museum people, maybe ten collectors. And no more.’
-quoted from New York: The New Art Scene (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1967) by Alan Soloman; from Off The Wall, A Portrait of Robert Rauschenberg (New York: Picador, 2005), by Calvin Tomkins, pg. 234.
7. “I believe that the only way for me to develop myself is the way thoroughly proven by the men who have made jazz what it is- that is, to play as often and as publicly as possible with as good musicians as will tolerate me.”
-Steve Lacy, from Steve Lacy: Coversations (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2006), edited by Jason Weiss, pg. 16.
8. “At some point in the sixties the art world ceased to have a geographical basis. The old New York-Paris rivalry became obsolete; contemporary art is as much at home today in Tokyo or in Dusseldorf. The artist can live anywhere and do his work, and his work seems to lie, in many instances, outside the studio.”
Calvin Tomkins, Off The Wall, A Portrait of Robert Rauschenberg (New York: Picador, 2005), pg. 260.
9. “In its most limited sense, modern art would seem to concern itself only with the technical innovations of the period. In its larger and to me irrevocable sense it is the art of all time; of definite personalities, that remain forever modern by the fundamental truth that is in them. It makes Molière at his greatest as new as Ibsen, or Giotto as modern as Cézanne.”
-Edward Hopper, from Edward Hopper (1949), by Lloyd Goodrich, pg. 162.
10. “Improvisation is an attitude.”
-Paul Lytton in conversation with Ken Vandermark.
11. “[Photography] is not the image of Secretary Dulles descending from a plane. It is not cute cats, nor touchdowns, nor nudes; motherhood; arrangements of manufacturer’s products. Under no circumstances is it anything ever anywhere near a beach. In short it is not a lie- a cliché- somebody else’s idea. It is prime vision combined with quality of feeling, no less.”
-Walker Evans, from Walker Evans (Basic Books, 1999), by James R. Mellow, pg. 553.
12. “Cubism is not different from any other school of painting. The same principles and the same elements are common to all. The fact that for a long time cubism has not been understood and that even today there are people who cannot see anything in it, means nothing. I do not read English, an English book is a blank book to me. This does not mean that the English language does not exist, and why should I blame anybody else but myself if I cannot understand what I know nothing about?”
-Pablo Picasso, from Picasso On Art, A Selection of Views (Da Capo Press, 1972), edited by Dore Ashton, pg. 4.