Monday, November 06, 2006

So... Why DOES the World Need Another Painting?

I was googling the question: how to become a famous artist for use in today’s blog post and this is the first thing I ran across:


I don’t believe in “Artists’ Statements,” those overblown and convoluted explanations about what artists do and what their paintings mean. In my books, catalogs, and articles I write about my life and experience as an artist, the way I feel about things that matter. You’ll note it doesn’t answer particular questions about my work.

There’s a reason.

Visual art doesn’t stand on words. They only muddy what a painting says. What’s on the canvas should not be explained away with clever talk. Writing or speaking about it is an intellectual process. My pictures are not intellectual. They’re intuitive, painted under the tutelage of a benign spirit, mostly. And he prefers to remain silent as well.

If I talked about my work, you’d see it the way I see it. If I told you what I meant when I painted a thing, or what I wanted to tell you when I chose a particular subject, I would corrupt you. I would take away the innocent pleasure of your first and subsequent looks. You would stand in front of the painting and think about my words, and thinking about them, you would not see what I painted. You would see what I told you to see. Even if you were strongly against seeing it this way, it would be an argument that would cloud your vision. It would not make for an interesting dialogue.

In short, the work is what it is. If it speaks to you, you’ll understand it. If it doesn’t, it won’t matter if I’ve supplied you with a whole lot of reasons for its importance. If it’s any good, you’ll already know everything about it.

Conversely, if it doesn’t speak to you, move on, forget about it. It’s my failure, not yours.

It’s up to the critic to describe what an artist’s work means. The artist himself is a poor source of information. He’s too close to it, he’s not an impartial witness and he’s probably not terribly coherent.

Art is a visual exchange between the one who paints it and the one who looks at it. It speaks all the languages, but none of them very well. -W. Joe Innis, Painter of Pictures


That has to be one of the most asinine statements I have ever read. Let’s put aside the obvious fact that his declaration of why “not to write an artist’s statement” is in fact an ARTIST’S STATEMENT! What legitimate artist depends on the critic for justification of the work? If you look at this guy’s work, you will notice that he is part impressionist and part realist, but absolutely no part of his work is actually original in concept. Of course he believes that artists do not need to think to paint – he doesn’t.

His work is “pretty”, but even the artist admits it is just a picture, devoid of meaning. Possibly devoid of purpose? Click here to view some examples of Innis’ work.

His final comment is the icing on the cake – if he truly believes that artists cannot clearly speak their mind to their audience, he either needs a new audience or a new style. Probably both….. – DN


Click here to read a decent article garnered from my original google search for how to become a famous artist.

1 comment:

Leslie Pearson said...

I was reading an interview with Cindy Sherman the other day. She was talking about a critic who wrote something about her work and she laughed because it wasn't at all what she was saying with her work. People read stuff written by "art critics" like it's the word of God and they think that must be what "the work" means...often times even when it meant something else to them while they were viewing it. Anyway, I am BIG on writing artist statements. I usually write a whole page about each painting I do because I want to make it very clear to anyone who wants to know more-what I was thinking during the time, what I was reading, what I was inspired by, etc. They can look at the work and move on without needing or wanting to know more but in case they do, there it is in black and white from my own hand ..not some blow hard art critic who wants to sum up my life's work for me after I'm dead. No way!! That gives me the creeps. It's as simple as that, if you end up being a success, things will be written about you and your work. It will either be written by you or someone else who never knew you. Sometimes I do paint something that has no meaning other than the power of the color or brush stroke, etc. Now I'm babbling...I better get back in the studio.