Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

July 13, 2017

Artist of the week: Anne Truitt


Installation view of the exhibition, Anne Truitt Sculpture 1962-2004 at Matthew Marks Gallery
Anne Truitt is an artist I first came to know through her writing. Her three memoirs, DaybookTurn, and Prospect: The Journey of an Artist, are must reads for any studio worker, especially for women and mothers.

First, 1961, Acrylic on wood, 44 ¼ x 17 ¾ x 7 inches. 
Because of her writing, when I see her sculptures I feel like I have a shared intimacy with them. Her work is such a perfect reflection of who she seemed to be. They are at once subtle yet straightforward, delicate yet powerful, thoughtful yet severe.

Watauga, 1962, Acrylic on wood, 46 x 56 x 7 inches

Spring Dryad, 1975, Acrylic on wood, 76 x 13 x 8 inches

Currently there's an Anne Truitt installation at DIA Beacon so I wanted to post this while you can still see the show. It really is just a glimpse, and I wish there were at least five more rooms full, but in order to understand and appreciate what she was all about you do need to stand in the real presence of her work. As she writes in Daybook:
"I am most profoundly grateful to have had the opportunity to see my work... Like the night at the Corcoran Gallery of Art... I walked up and down the dark corridors between their massive forms, most of which towered over me, and held out both my hands to feel them, not touching them. They stood in their own space, in their own time, and I was glad in their presence."
I could easily quote from the entire book since after reading it three times already I am still completely enthralled, but I'll leave it up to you to go get a copy and see for yourself!

Gloucester, 1963–72, Acrylic on wood, 74 x 72 x 13 inches

Morning Choice, 1968, Acrylic on wood, 72 x 14 x 14 inches

Hardcastle, 1962, Acrylic on wood, 99 ¾ x 42 x 16 inches

Pith, 1969, Acrylic on wood, 85 ½ x 18 x 18 inches

View, 1999, Acrylic on wood, 81 x 8 x 8 inches

Second Requiem, 1977, Acrylic on wood, 84 x 10 x 8 inches

Shrove, 1962, Acrylic on wood, 60 x 10 x 10 inches

View of Anne Truitt's Washington D.C studio, 1980

Seven, 1962, Oil (semi-gloss enamel) on wood, 53 ¾ x 32 x 7 ⅞ inches

Southern Elegy, 1962, Oil (semi-gloss and flat) on wood, 47 x 20 ⅞ x 6 ⅞ inches
A Wall for Apricots, 1968, Acrylic on wood, 72 ⅝ x 14 x 14 inches

Anne Truitt in her studio















 

Most of the images here are from the very comprehensive website: http://www.annetruitt.org/
I've selected only her sculpture but her paintings are also significant and worth viewing: http://www.annetruitt.org/works/selected-paintings



April 13, 2017

what does success mean to you?

I'm posting this on my birthday, in the hopes that this year will be more successful than the last....

IN THE COMPANY OF WOMEN: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs is a très interesting book of interviews. The founder of Design Sponge, Grace Bonney, asks this diverse group of inspiring women a series of questions describing their creative paths.

A book like this, with artists answering the same questions over and over, makes me imagine how I would answer the questions myself. It's only natural to make those comparisons. I won't bore you with the details, but what I want to talk about is the one question I was stuck on.  

What does success mean to you?
This is, of course, a completely subjective thing but don't you find the very notion of success a bit fleeting? It seems to change with the times, at least for me. When I was young I thought fame and fortune played a big part. Recognition, accolades, raising a family, being a good person. But any one of those things just by themselves has never really done it for me. I've thought about it a lot.

When I read Ping Zhu's reply, that "when things are harmonious, even for a moment, I try to savor it",  

Paul Klee, New Harmony, 1936
I realized that was it! That was the answer I was looking for. Success is not a concrete thing after all, it's a moment when everything is working together in perfect harmony. And if that's true, then there's the possibility for moments of great success every single day in everything we do!

I recently watched an episode of Chef's Table on Netflix. I can't say enough about this series, I absolutely love it. This one was about the Korean Buddhist nun Jeong Kwon.
Jeong Kwon used the word orchestra to illustrate the kind of unifying harmony where everything is working together. She was referring to nature and her place in it, but it's indicative of her all-inclusive philosophy about her food, her means of expressing her life, and her gratitude. Even more interesting was Ms. Kwon's notion that that very harmony was what she considered true freedom.

Hmmm.
I love this idea that maybe what success really means is true freedom. A freedom almost like a weightlessness, where all the elements are equally balanced, where nothing is too heavy or too light, nothing unnecessary or out of place, no interference, no mistakes. Even if it's just for a brief moment.

It's so simple isn't it? True freedom, true success, is the ability to get past our own selves, our own disappointments and desires. To not be burdened with expectations but to allow things to fall into place. I think the more we get away from the idea that we are the center of the universe, that life should wait for us, should adhere to our every want and whim, the closer we'll get to feeling at peace with ourselves and the things around us. Everything has a place and a purpose if we choose to see it that way. If we get out of our own way, perfect harmony can be happening all around us.

Henri Matisse, The Dessert: Harmony in Red, 1908









Success is harmony and harmony is freedom.

And there ends my sermon for the day! haha


December 23, 2016

"Gorgeous Nothings" Envelope poems and paintings

Emily Dickinson's Envelope poems



 

This morning I came across a review of the book The Gorgeous Nothings, which highlights Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems. I was immediately reminded of the Envelope Paintings of my Facebook friend and artist Julia Schwartz, so I thought I'd share. 

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

Julia Schwartz, Envelope paintings
Julia Schwartz, Gouache on found, repurposed envelopes, various dimensions, 2016

If I could curate a show with all of these lovely pieces side by side I would! Here is the full article which was posted by Tupelo Quarterly and written by Hannah Star Rogers. Sounds like a good idea for a last minute Christmas gift too!

Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems Hold New Pleasures


 
Emily Dickinson’s The Gorgeous Nothings offers an incredible inquiry into the material practice of Emily Dickinson’s poetry and an argument for why we should take not just the visual culture of poetry into account, as so many new editions of Dickinson’s poetry do, but also the materiality—as both constraint and possibility.
The Gorgeous Nothings, from Christine Burgin/New Directions, edited by Marta Werner and Jen Bervin with a preface by Susan Howe, is the first publication of Emily Dickinson’s complete envelope writings in facsimile from her visually-oriented manuscripts, rendered here in full color and arranged as if they were pressed into a scrapbook. The book is no doubt the dream of poetry and visual culture scholars (very literally as it took Werner, a Dickinson scholar, and Bervin, a visual artist, to bring the book together), but beyond important academic contributions, this book is a lot of fun to open and toss through as though it was a box of Grandmother’s letters—if your grandmother was the Belle of Amherst.
The editors made great choices that allow us these pleasures: the facsimiles are collected together in such a way that we can enjoy the puzzle. The book replicates the material experience of opening an archive, while the shape of the envelope and text is detailed for legibility in schematics that reflect the envelopes’ shape and dimensions. A 252 gives us a sense of the Dickson we recognize, while adding an the extra layer of the material constraints of the envelope:
ED2 copy
What is added by knowing that Dickson met the corner of the page with the word “power,” and arranged her lines to fill the space, gives us a new sense of the space that the poem occupies and of her agility in working not only in acoustic constraints and vital rhythms, but also in another layer of formal concerns. Even a glance at the forms of the envelopes tells the reader something magical is happening in the details of the poems:
ED1 copy
Dickinson’s work has been unfolding for us slowly, revealing her mastery in new ways. First, as Howe writes in the preface, in the 1951 Johnson edition with those characteristic amazing capitals and dashes, then with the word lists of alternate possibilities, and finally, here, with the full materiality of her envelope letters. Maybe it is only now that the reading world is ready to embrace the found and the forgotten in this work, that we are really ready to revel in the glory of the envelope poems. Our own material turn is making these artworks no longer something difficult or illegible, but a celebration of the parts of her poetry that only words not born in typeface can offer.
What may not be immediately legible in the material constraints surely informed the publication choices regarding what parts of the manuscripts would be preserved. These acts of legitimation may have been a part of creating the Emily Dickinson legacy. Perhaps “scraps” (the Dickinson community’s easy reference word for these poems) did not a major poet make, particularly if they came from a woman who largely wrote for herself. In any case, the poetry universe is certainly ready for a revised visual understand of Dickinson’s work that this text brings us.
Yet another wrinkle in the story of why this is the moment for considering the material elements of these poems may be the digitization project at Amherst College’s Archives & Special Collections, which preceded this edition. Poets (and indeed humanists more generally) are being asked often to account for the effects of technology on their work. In this case, the appearance of Dickinson’s work in a digital form precedes an important account of new dimensions of her poetry. Rather than simply spreading copies of her work more broadly, as in so many digital humanities projects, a real discovery and novel way of thinking of Dickinson’s work has been revealed by its digitization. Of course, it has long been possible to imagine an exhibit (as Howe does) or color copies of these poems being created for a book, but the ease and availability of scanning may have given both affordance and occasion to study the material aspects of this work.
Bervin’s essay also leads us toward a new image of Dickinson. Rather than a poet grabbing at envelopes when she was struck by inspiration, Bervin calls our attention to the variety of ways the envelops are folded and cut, suggesting that the poet had prepared these envelops in advance for the moment when an inspiration struck. Her lines flow across surfaces that we perceive only by her attention to them: stops at corners or folds and changes in handwriting and letter size to accommodate her poems to the space the material alots, while transforming the envelope to make spaces for words which readers might not see without the poet filing them. This preparation points not just to thrift, but to how Dickinson perceived her poems as objects rendered with care, what Howe calls, “visual productions.”
This curation of the envelope poems reveals the way the poet turned the borders of the envelopes that she cut and tore into shapes to write on into constraints to complicate her poems: making them fascinating visual objects. Like metrics, rhythms, and rhymes which structure as they aestheticize, Dickinson’s envelope offered her a new method for inspiration. The folds and corners of her thrifty paper uses create new layer of self-imposed limitation which generated new possibilities for the poem. The Gorgeous Nothings is proof that one of our most important poets can still amaze and teach us new thing about the practice of poetry.
 

June 6, 2016

Secrets of the Muse

Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is such a good book. Even though I don't consider myself a writer per se, most of what he talks about could easily be applied to any artist of any discipline. He may have a whole chapter on vocabulary and grammar but it could just as well be about color, line and composition. There's so much to talk about with this book. His fascinating personal history, cool background information on some of his best novels and the Hollywood movies they turned into, the realities of being a working artist, the pragmatics of writing and persevering, etc. I've earmarked so many pages I will probably have to read the whole thing all over again.

Louise Bourgeois, The Insomnia Drawing no.14, 1995
One of the major things that struck me was the idea of a muse or an "ideal reader". It's been on my mind since page 215 which was like 2 months ago. King writes,
Someone- I can't remember who, for the life of me- once wrote that all novels are really letters aimed at one person. As it happens, I believe this. I think that every novelist has a single ideal reader; that at various points during the composition of a story, the writer is thinking, "I wonder what he/she will think when he/she reads this part?" For me that first reader is my wife, Tabitha.
Gerhard Richter
The first thing I thought about when I read this was a blog post I wrote almost a year ago that started with that very person's name who said the thing about writing like you're writing to one person. I never published the post, ended up deleting the whole thing, and subsequently cannot remember who the person was either. crazy.

Anyway as soon as I read it it was everywhere. It's like every article I've read since then has some artist naming his/her spouse as their muse or "ideal reader", the person they show their work to first and whose opinion they most rely on. It's been an epiphany for me. It's one of those subconscious things that you're aware of without realizing you're aware of it. Like when you're stuck on a piece of artwork. You know something is wrong but you can't articulate it until someone else comes in and points it out. Then it's, oh my God of course, that's what I knew the whole time.

Cy Twombly
The epiphany is that I realized I do not have a muse, and what's worse, I think I need one... badly.

So what the heck is a muse anyway? King writes,
... she's the one I write for, the one I want to wow... when I write a scene that strikes me as funny... I am also imagining my Ideal Reader finding it funny... He or she is going to be in your writing room all the time... You'll find yourself bending the story even before Ideal Reader glimpses so much as the first sentence. I.R. will help you get outside yourself a little, to actually read your work in progress as an audience would while you're still working.
There are plenty of arguments about the role the audience or viewer plays in works of art. Some artists claim they don't care and only make the work for themselves. I have a hard time with that. My thought is that visual art is visual. It needs a pair of eyes on it to complete the whole process. King seems to agree, at least about writing, when he says, "if you really feel that way, why bother to publish at all?"

Louise Bourgeois
Since I believe the viewer is an important part of my  work, then it goes along that a muse might also be important.
It's nice to have someone to want to impress, and what artist can't use another pair of eyes? If not to lavish their opinionated bits on you then at least to point out the things you can't easily see by yourself. It's kind of like having an extra standard to hold the work up to. A criteria that's outside yourself. That's what makes it useful. Because as artists we are so absorbed in our own heavy heads, it's important to step away sometimes and see things from a different point of view.

So the big question is, do you believe in the muse. Is it important? Is it necessary? Do you have one? Do you need one like me, and if so, where do you find one??????????


February 12, 2016

Artist's Daily Rituals

Here's a great book for artists I recently read that I must share with you,
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, edited and with text by Mason Currey.

Daily Rituals by Mason Currey
It presents detailed descriptions of the daily routines of 161 artists, mostly in their own words. It includes artists of every genre throughout history including writers, composers, painters, choreographers, playwrights, poets, philosophers, sculptors, filmmakers, and scientists.

I am so fascinated by books like this. I love to hear how other artists spend their days in and out of the studio. With all the vagaries of artist temperaments, and all the disparate ways of getting things done, what amazes me is that in the end I think we are all exactly the same, all fighting with ourselves over one thing or another, and for the same end purpose: creating. So many quirks and peculiar habits: charts and time clocks to track the time, pots of coffee and chocolate and opium and whiskey to keep us up when we should be down and down when we should be up. Rising at 3am or at noon or not sleeping at all, working in pajamas or while lying in bed or at the kitchen table. All leading up to the most important aspect of our lives, the work. I think most artists agree that inspiration is either non-existent or so constant we don't think of it as inspiration at all. The key is getting to work, whether we feel inclined at the moment or not. I love reading about an artist who lived two hundred years ago who went about his day similarly to the way I go about my day. Not to get too overly sentimental (if it's not too late), but I think it's important for artists to feel this connection, like we're continuing something important, something we can't help to begin with.

Willem de Kooning
photo of Willem de Kooning
I was thinking the other day that I can't remember an article I've read about contemporary painting in maybe the last five years that did not mention de Kooning at least 4 times. I wonder how he would feel about that. I used to imagine de Kooning's work ethic the epitome of what an artist's life should look like. Like being in your art studio 12 hours a day seven days a week was the only way to be a real artist. The man never stopped working. After years of struggling with that notion I've finally accepted my own way of doing things, which needless to say is a far cry from someone like Willem de Kooning.


Willem de Kooning
Woman Landscape XII, Willem de Kooning

Everyone needs to find their own way, so if four hours gets me to the best work I can make, so be it. 

Books like Daily Rituals confirm all my ideas about being an artist. It's wonderfully encouraging to see how other artists have been dealing with all the same issues but in so many different ways for so long...

For Like Ever, poster
for like ever.



December 28, 2015

Which Of These



I've been picking up new books like crazy lately and can't decide which one to read first. Started two of them already but haven't gotten very far, two are brand new from Christmas, and the Secrets and Psychology of Waiting in Line I half read out loud at the bar at Spotty Dog.  

What do you think? Which of these should I read first??
 
clockwise from top left: Hold Still by Sally Mann, M Train by Patti Smith, Why Does The Other Line Always Move Faster by David Andrews, Daisy Miller by Henry James, Lady of Yaddo by Lynn Esmay, This Is Not It by Lynne Tillman, A Backward Glance: An Autobiography by Edith Wharton, New York Diaries edited by Teresa Carpenter, Solitude by Anthony Storr


 

August 25, 2015

Is happiness a talent?

That seals it. I need to go to Italy soon... very soon.

Spaghetti Carbonara
Life is taking an unexpected turn toward trying new things. Like Spaghetti Carbonara. and Elizabeth Gilbert. I know. Spaghetti Carbonara is not a new discovery, but it's new to me, and let me add that it is an absolute revelation. Not sure why I've never made it or ever eaten it. And here's where a good blogger would research all sorts of historic details about the origin of the recipe, but I don't have time for that now and it's not really what this post is about... Anyway, like the Carbonara, Elizabeth Gilbert is also a revelation. Author of Eat Pray Love which book (also not new but new to me) I am now midway through has some very interesting insights. I admit I watched the movie, which is irrelevant, and I also admit I only checked the book out of the local library because I liked a recent article about seduction she wrote for the New York Times Magazine, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/magazine/confessions-of-a-seduction-addict.html
Regardless. Here I am midway through characters like Luca Spaghetti and phrases about genius Italian culture like,
The beauty of doing nothing is the goal of all your work... The more exquisitely and delightfully you can do nothing, the higher your life's achievement... Anyone with a talent for happiness can do this, not only the rich.
If you've read my blog you know that the beauty of doing nothing is a wonderful goal I do wish to achieve, 
but the thing that caught my attention most was the idea of happiness actually being a talent. 

As if you could be born with this talent or not born with it. As if there could maybe even be the possibility of learning how to do it better, or do it at all.
It got me thinking about my own happiness or unhappiness. And then of course, how does this translate into my artwork...
I don't know if I'd consider myself a happy person or if I have a talent for making happy paintings... but lo and behold I just found an entry in my journal from last December telling myself how happy I was and that I thought I was actually making happy paintings! Who knew.

Do I even want to be making happy paintings?

Samantha Palmeri painting
"abstract painting #7"
Samantha Palmeri painting
"abstract painting #9" two paintings I imagine I labeled at the time as happy
I've read some interesting theories about what makes for more popular art. As in what do collectors like to purchase, and what do commercial galleries like to sell, etc. It has been suggested that brown paintings do not sell, blue paintings do sell, red paintings are exciting, and if you can't fit it in the elevator you're probably not taking it home with you.
Ms. Gilbert remarks that,
Ours is an entertainment-seeking nation, but not necessarily a pleasure-seeking one. Americans spend billions to keep themselves amused with everything from porn to theme parks to wars, but that's not exactly the same thing as quiet enjoyment.
As the two words arts and entertainment are so entwined in American culture, it doesn't seem that far off that art, fine art even, is a form of entertainment. Not that the pleasure you get from a wonderful piece of art could really be considered entertainment, but at the same time you need to want to spend most evenings hanging out with it. Enjoyment. Entertainment... it's close.
So then the question is, do people want to be happy and hang happier paintings on their walls??
Death and murder make up a huge part of our entertainment as well.  
I imagine that there must be a comparable number of melancholy art collectors as there are happy ones, right? 

I for one have no intention of choosing my paint colors based on statistical data that I do not presently remember the source of. I do admit, however, that I spend a lot of time thinking about things like this. In fact it crosses my mind each time I unload a very murky brownish mustard color off my paintbrush. I am a painter who loves color and puts a lot of meaning into the colors I choose and the emotional effects they will have on the viewer. So I can't really help it.

Anyway it turns out, and I am happy to report, that in the theme of trying new things, along with planning my trip to Italy, the crisis of happy or unhappy and brown versus blue is currently being solved, at least temporarily, with plans for a new series of paintings... all in black and white.

Samantha Palmeri painting
"ADT" what will turn out to be one of the last paintings I made before the new black and white series






June 10, 2015

"You see, I want a lot"

One of my favorite books of poetry is
Rilke's Book of Hours/ Love Poems to God
by Rainer Maria Rilke

detail of current painting in progress titled Save me from my Desires

I've read it through so many times yet I always find something inspiring.
Written in German and translated, here are two worth rereading:
 

Ich glaube an Alles noch nie Gesagte

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for

may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,

streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.


Du siehst, ich will viel

You see, I want a lot.
Maybe I want it all:
the darkness of each endless fall,
the shimmering light of each ascent.

So many are alive who don't seem to care.
Casual, easy, they move in the world
as though untouched.

But you take pleasure in the faces
of those who know they thirst.
You cherish those
who grip you for survival.

You are not dead yet, it's not too late
to open your depths by plunging into them
and drink in the life
that reveals itself quietly there.








January 26, 2015

Taking Advantage of Art History

I'm currently reading a fascinating biography on Arshile Gorky.

Arshile Gorky

Arshile Gorky
One of the things I think is so interesting and that I'm discovering more and more as I read other artist biographies, is the reverence, devotion, and obsession in some cases, that these old great artists had for art history, and even for their fellow artists. Gorky walked around with a book on Ingres for years. De Kooning followed Gorky around for years even though it sounds like he was a real jerk to him before they became friends. And it seems like everyone from that 1930's era was completely fawning all over Picasso and his cronies.

Picasso in his studio

They copied each other, they studied each other, they knew every drawing and painting ever made. They became apprentices, and when they'd copied every single work they could, they suddenly emerged with their own voice and their own way of making things. Amazing.

Amazing because we don't do things that way now. I mean, we learn art history in school because we have to. We collect our heroes along the way, but I think one of the downfalls of my generation of artists is that we don't think we need those old great artists from art history. For some reason there is a whole generation of artists now who think they've invented the wheel and are actually making art that is that most ridiculous and impossible word of all... original.

I suffer from this myself. Not that I believe in originality, but I definitely do not hang out at museums nearly as much as I should. Outside of school assignments I can't think of a time I ever sat down and started copying another artist's work. I think maybe it's time.

Even at this point in my artistic life it still makes sense why it would be beneficial. As an abstract painter I'm pretty much dealing with the same issues that every abstract painter has ever dealt with. So why not take a few cues from artists who've already figured it all out?

Cezanne
I just need help figuring out whose work I want to copy...


Joan Mitchell

Picasso