Showing posts with label art history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art history. Show all posts

October 17, 2016

Philip Guston, Who The Hell Wants Paint On A Surface?

Philip Guston painting
Philip Guston, Alchemist, 1960, oil on canvas, 61 x 67 inches

Philip Guston in an interview with Joseph Ablow 1966

"For reasons which I did not understand at the time... when I went into nonobjective painting or at least non-figurative painting, I felt I was even then involved with imagery, even though I didn't understand the imagery, but I thought it was imagery.

For some reason that is not quite clear to me yet, and maybe I don't want to be clear about it either, I was forced and pushed into the kind of painting that I did. That is to say that the demand, in the dialogue of myself with this, was that I make some marks.
It speaks to me, I speak to it. We have terrible arguments going all night for weeks and weeks.
"Do I really believe that?" I make a mark, a few strokes, and I argue with myself. Not "Do I like it or not?" but "Is it true or not?" And "Is that what I mean? Is that what I want?"

But there comes a point when something catches on the canvas, something grips on the canvas. I don't know what it is. I mean, when you put paint on a surface, most of the time it looks like paint.
Who the hell wants paint on a surface? 
You take it off, put it on, it goes over here, it moves over a foot. As you go closer, it starts moving in inches not feet, then half-inches. There comes a point, though, when the paint doesn't feel like paint. I don't know why. Some mysterious thing happens. I think you experience this, maybe in parts of canvases or something like that. If you can do it by painting a face or an eye or a nose or an apple, it doesn't matter. What counts is that the paint should really disappear. Otherwise it's craft or something like that."
Philip Guston painting
Philip Guston, Portrait I, 1965, oil on canvas, 68 x 78 inches







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