Friday, May 21

Building an Artist

Proposal for Train Jeff Koons examines Jeff Koon's CV (via C-Monster) and finds that things don't add up. Koon's legacy (perhaps like many large historical figures) seems to be blurred just by virtue of not having kept track of details. It seems Koon's mythological start on Wall Street might not be more than any other working artist's early days: a simple day job filling in the blanks. He didn't give up some million dollar career track.

Towards the end he mentions a fairly common artist trajectory:
...the very familiar arc of an emerging artist's career: art school; crap job at a museum; make crappy work; get a day job; friends with artists; failed starts with some dealers; sell a piece or two; go broke; get another day job; get in some group shows; which leads to a solo show. And the rest, we know.
Just out of school I think I was afraid to be called a painter if I hadn't been painting that morning. I was afraid I'd loose it. The reality, as a professor made clear years before, "You're lucky if you'll get 3 hours a week of painting in at first".
Black City Julie Mehretu (via Representing Place)
I think things are a little bit different now for me: there isn't an identity crisis about it, for one thing. But when for artists does their day job stop getting in the way of artistic practice? When does your ordinary lifestyle inform your practice? Or when do we become honest with our selves about what we're making?

Of course there is work, work and more work. But there's also something Robert Pirsig mentions in that classic, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: "You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It's easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally."

Semi-Related: The writings of Jack Tworkov, who seemed to content working like a salmon at his art. At the Art 21 blog by Sharon Butler:
Every art can only say what the medium allows it to say. Every change in medium is a change in content. A painter knows that what was originally suggested by charcoal can never be said in paint. If you paint you say one thing. If you stain you say another. If you paste, you say still another. By the time you use a computer you will say an utterly different thing—that’s why painting will go on…
And also Julie Mehretu’s paintings that I have always been strangely attached to. Another one who is so seemingly embedded in another world beyond her own. Maybe that's the secret!

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