Twelve Artist Statements #8


1. “I’m not interested in ‘abstracting’ or taking things out or reducing painting. I paint this way because I can keep putting more and more things in it- drama, anger, pain, love, a figure, a horse, my ideas about space.”

-Willem De Kooning, in the New York Times Magazine, January 21, 1951; section 6, page 27.

2. “I do what I do because I want to, because painting is the best way I’ve found to get along with myself. And it’s the moment of doing it that counts. When a painting is finished it’s already something I’ve done, no longer what I’m doing.”

-Robert Rauschenberg from Off The Wall, A Portrait of Robert Rauschenberg (New York: Picador, 2005), by Calvin Tomkins, pg. 166.

3. “And if you’re going to reduce something, you’d better get to the essence of it or not bother.”

-Steve Lacy, from Steve Lacy: Coversations (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2006), edited by Jason Weiss, pg. 21.

4. “Painting is a language of its own. You cannot interpret one form of expression with another form of expression.”

-Marcel Duchamp, from The Complete Works of Marcel Duchamp (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1962), by Arturo Schwarz.

5. “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and do the work.”

-Chuck Close on the Charlie Rose Show, broadcast March 13, 2007.

6. “It is, then, these composers [i.e., Schoenberg, Bartok, and Stravinsky] above all who accomplished the revolution of which I spoke at the beginning of this chapter. I want to stress this fact because the next generation- my own- is not at all in the same sense a revolutionary one. It is rather one in which the materials yielded by the revolution must be assimilated anew and given new shapes; one in which the revolution must be appraised and consolidated, in which its various elements must be regrouped and its problems provided with fresh solutions. For the older generation was an extraordinary one; it not only posed the questions which contemporary music faces, it provided the first solutions of them.”

-Roger Sessions, from his book, The Musical Experience of Composer, Performer, Listener, (Reprint Services Corp, 1950), pg. 113.

7. “There is no such thing as abstraction. It is extraction, gravitation toward a certain direction, and minding your own business. If the extract be clear enough its value will exist.”

-Arthr Dove, quoted from the exhibition catalog for his 1929 show at the Stieglitz Intimate Gallery on an Art Institute of Chicago information card for one of Dove’s paintings.

8. “When we invented cubism we had no intention whatever of inventing cubism. We wanted simply to express what was in us. Not on of us drew up a plan of campaign, and our friends, the poets, followed our efforts attentively, but they never dictated to us. Young painters today often draw up a program to follow, and apply themselves like diligent students to performing their tasks.”

-Pablo Picasso, from Picasso On Art, A Selection of Views (Da Capo Press, 1972), edited by Dore Ashton, pg.10.

9. “Talk about painting: there’s no point. By conveying a thing through the medium of language, you change it. You construct qualities that can be said, and you leave out the ones that can’t be said but are always the most important.”

-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. 39.

10. “When a man talks to me about technique in music, I’m sorry to say I think of him as a fool. Obviously, if you settle for a system, which is like settling for a form of government, you cannot go farther than that system allows, you cannot go out of it, so you are immediately back where we began. You could be someone like Stockhausen who would use many particular systems, many particular stances in the same piece, but they all define themselves immediately… So don’t talk to me about systems, don’t talk to me about aesthetics, don’t talk to me about art, and let’s end it with this thought: that it all has to do with nerve, nothing else, that’s what it’s all about; so in a sense it’s a character problem.”

-Morton Feldman, from Morton Feldman Says, selected interviews and lectures, 1964-1987 (London: Hyphen Press, 2006), edited by Chris Villars, pg. 33.

11. “Most people who believe that I’m interested in chance don’t realize that I use chance as a discipline. They think I use it- I don’t know- as a way of giving up making choices. But my choices consist in choosing what questions to ask.”

-John Cage, Conversing With Cage (New York: Limelight Editions, 1994), edited by Richard Kostelanetz, pg. 17.

12. [We came back to the Jazz Composers’ Guild of the night before, and he told me that they played Carla Bley’s “Radio,” among other things. I asked him if he had a solo on “Radio,” and he nodded, and I asked him how it related to the composition.]

“I don’t know- ha! The composition had a lot of melodies. It had a collective melody, a displaced melody with several aspects of itself at one time, like a cubist painting. And chance was involved in it all. The rhythm wasn’t pre-set. The length of time wasn’t really suggested for the different elements, the different events that took place. That had a lot to with the success or failure of it, the proportions that happened. Very interesting!”

What do you mean by proportions?

“Relative sizes, volumes, lengths. In time. Three seconds for this and five minutes for this, and the whole in three quarters of an hour. Certain amounts of high and low, and dynamics, fasts and slows. Relative sizes of things from the whole range of possibilities. A lot of the proportions of last night were chance, and a lot of it was motivated by what was written. It was a very beguiling mixture of these two provocations: what was caused first by what was written, and what was caused by who was there and how they were feeling at the moment.”

Material and response.

“Yeah. Subject and situation.”

-Steve Lacy in conversation with Garth W. Caylor, Jr., from from Steve Lacy: Coversations (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2006), edited by Jason Weiss, pg. 28-29.