Monday, February 04, 2008

I am happy to report that I am in the midst of a creative firestorm the likes of which I have not experienced in years. The process that I described a few weeks ago (in the middle of that very long post) has set off a chain reaction of experimentation: I am combining media, making some huge leaps in my work. Some of it will go nowhere, as that is part of the process, but I have never felt so good about the potential for my work, or so excited about the many different directions I seem to be stretching in. In the past, I would often note in my students (and in myself) the tendancy to think that we are taking a huge leap in our work, trying some great idea, and we realize after the fact that it was not, in fact, a big step, it was a tiny step. I feel like I am finally taking some big steps in the work.

I finished my most recent Art World Truth piece yesterday (click to enlarge)
and I continue with the current hair embroidery. In the meantime, supplies are arriving and I am testing some of the structural and logistical aspects of these new ideas.

Psychologically, I am sure that what is happening in the studio is bolstered even further by the fact that it feels like Spring is here, and we are FINALLY (after 2 years) painting the rooms of our house in some brilliant hues, so it is starting to feel like home.

Then I opened up the New York Times yesterday morning, and serendipitously, there is a great Carol Vogel article on Jasper Johns. I have always admired the constant boundary pushing of his work. His imagery has stayed somewhat consistent, but the materials have always been stretched and prodded, to gorgeous effect. I am planning a trip to NY in March, and in addition to the Armory Show and the Biennial, I have his show at the Met to look forward to. He is an old-school master, a successful artist’s artist (I read some where recently that the "artist’s artist" term was a euphamism for artists who have been plugging away and never got as much recognition as they deserved). As I was reading the article, I was thinking about how antithetical this man seems to be to the art stars we have today. I was considering that this push of your materials can only come when you are WORKING with the materials YOURSELF. When we read about artists with factories, the art seems to be launched like a product: get an idea, develop the concept for its seductive properties, then get your people to make 20 of them (or whatever number has been proven to be the ideal number for a series, putting enough of them in circulation to validate them as an important suite, but making them scarce enough to be sought after). Then, at the end of the Johns interview, this was addressed:

"Unlike so many contemporary artists producing in today’s overheated art market, Mr. Johns relies neither on dozens of assistants nor a computer to make his creations. He executes his work by hand. “It’s a different art world from the one I grew up in,” he said, relaxing in his living room in a pair of khaki shorts, a light blue shirt and sandals. “Artists today know more. They are aware of the market more than they once were. There seems to be something in the air that art is commerce itself.

“I haven’t really been a part of it, although I’m sure in some way I am. It just doesn’t interest me.”

Asked what influence he feels he may have had on those young artists, Mr. Johns paused. “To me,” he said, “self-description is a calamity.”

My friend Elmer also sent me this link to a slideshow featured with the online article.

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