I received several books for Christmas via a nice cash gift that enabled me to pick and choose some favorites. One of the books I chose was Inside the Studio, two decades of talks with artists in New York. From Strand Books, a synopsis:
In1981, Independent Curators International, a New York organization with a record of innovative art programming, began “New York Studio Events,” an annual series of visits to the studios of prominent artists. Inside The Studio presents excerpts from the talks delivered by nearly seventy-three artists to their guests over the last two decades. Transcribed, excerpted, and shared here for the first time, ICI’s tapes of these talks constitute a remarkable record of the thinking and conversation of key artists of the 1980, 1990, and today. The artist variously provide personal insights, philosophical reflections, stories, and discussions of the origins of their practice, the evolution of their ideas, and the intellectual, psychological, spiritual, and even physical bases of their work. Includes color reproductions of artists’ works. Index of Artists, Photograph Credits. 296p.
I’ve really enjoyed the fact that I can pick up this book and choose an artist, see his or her photograph and an image or two of their work, and read the 3 page compilation of the studio visit. Many of the visits are from the 90s but I think are still so relevant. Most are well known artists, but some were new to me. Here’s a paragraph from the visit with artist Jane Hammond:
“When I start the painting, I don’t ever know what the meaning is, I don’t know why it’s important, I just come to trust that the things that occur to me at night while I’m lying in bed are real. I say to myself, “This is a painting idea,” and I find my glasses and kind of drag myself up and make some notes about it. In a fascinating and ever deepening process, what happens to me is, as I make the painting, or after I finish the painting, or sometimes a month after I finish the painting, I realize why the idea came and what the painting is about. I wouldn’t get that insight if I didn’t make the painting, so the painting, for me, is a process in which I get to access something that I couldn’t access but for painting it. Painting is like a tool for self-knowledge. Maybe it sounds kind of corny to say that today, but that’s how I see painting.”
Wow. I know that I find insight into my artwork when I review it years after first completing it, and I’m able to articulate more clearly what I was trying to say. I even find links between small series to the larger whole that confounded me initially.
One more recommendation is the film Gerhard Richter Painting. Highly recommended. If you have a Netflix streaming account, it is available to view. I’ve heard that people consider him a bit crotchety but I found him very insightful and at times somewhat embarrassed when the camera records him starting a painting. Can you imagine? It’s such a painful process for me to sew that first stitch. See the trailer here.