“Among those who study painting, some strive for an elaborate effect and others prefer the simple. Neither complexity in itself nor simplicity is enough.
Some aim to be deft, others to be laboriously careful. Neither dexterity nor conscientiousness is enough.
Some set great value on method, while others pride themselves on dispensing with method. To be without method is deplorable, but to depend entirely on method is worse.
You must learn first to observe the rules faithfully; afterwards, modify them according to your intelligence and capacity. The end of all method is to seem to have no method.”
Lu Ch'ai (Wang Kai)
Master of Ch'ing Tsai T'ang
"He who seeks truth shall find beauty. He who seeks beauty shall find vanity.
He who seeks order shall find gratification. He who seeks gratification shall be disappointed.
He who considers himself to be the servant of his fellow beings shall find the joy of self-expression. He who seeks self-expression shall fall into the pit of arrogance.
Arrogance is incompatible with nature.
Through nature, the nature of the universe and the nature of man, we shall seek truth.
If we seek truth, we shall find beauty."
"After abstract expressionism, a lot of artists haven't been trained to manipulate material. Instead, they've been taught that what they're supposed to manipulate is concepts or ideas. To me, this is absolutely responsible for a lot of weaknesses in artists' production at this point. I'm an advocate of a return to very fundamental, very basic studio practices, which means that you first spend a lot of your time trying to figure out what materials will do, and in the process of figuring that out, you figure out what to do with them. [...]
If my teacher Charles White said anything really important to me, it
was that you have to worry about making the best paintings and the best drawings you can, and the ideas will take care of themselves. I believe that wholeheartedly. I don't think there's anything worse than having a good idea that's poorly realized. And if you hope to break through to something meaningful, in terms of the relationship between form and content, it's gotta come out of a more experimental approach to material - a more experimental practice. That way, you see the possibility in materials for constructing meaning. If you don't understand the capacity of materials to carry meaning - if you don't have a certain set of skills - you're limited in your range to simple expressions, rather than complex ideas. Because what you're simply doing is selecting from meanings that are already prescribed or described."
"Kerry James Marshall,"
excerpt from a conversation between painter
Kerry James Marshall and Arthur Jaffa, 2000
"When you do something, you also do something else."
Kees Franse, 1978
"All good art is made with three ingredients: integrity, intelligence and intensity. It is the artist's task to optimize those."
Jaap van den Ende, 1979
"The artist has only to remain true to his dream and it will possess his work in such a manner that it will resemble the work of no other man."
Albert Pinkham Ryder
"Have you ever seen an inch worm crawl up a leaf or twig, and then clinging to the very end, revolve in the air, feeling for something to reach...? That's like me. I am trying to find something out there beyond the place on which I have a footing."
Albert Pinkham Ryder
"Now, how do you get to work on a canvas without knowing anything? That is
what I think is most important. How do you get in front of a canvas and at the moment you begin, nothing comes to you? Nothing whatsoever? How do you begin -- or should you begin like that?
In order to get you into the mood to understand that, I want to talk about you -- the person who is about to reach out and touch some manufactured piece of material that is just right for your colors. [...] You are this person without any knowledge -- about to attack this blank canvas -- and the first thing you find out is that you're falling. You get this strange feeling that when you reach, you fall; what has seemed very solid to you no longer is solid. If this paint which came out of the tube is now on the canvas, and at the very moment you say "art" to yourself; at that moment, you fall. You get the very strange sensation that this is not real."
"Out of the Picture: Milton Resnick
and the New York School, (Talk Two)"
Transcribed, compiled and edited by Geoffrey Dorfman, 2002
"My early work is the fear of falling. Later on it became the art of falling. How to fall without hurting yourself. Later on it is the art of hanging in there."
Destruction of the Father / Reconstruction of the
Writings and Interviews, 1923-1997
Louise Bourgeois, edited
by Marie-Laure Berdanac and Hans-Ulrich Obrist, 1997
"Modern painting preserves the impulse to transcendence - indeed, satisfies, however mystically, the basic human need for transcendence - in a secular society that denies there is any."
"The Rebirth of Painting in the Late Twentieth Century,"
Donald Kuspit, 2000
"It may be necessary to invent tools and methods about which you know nothing, to act in ways that allow you to utilize the content of your personal experience, to form an obsession and to cut through the weight of your education. For me, obsession is what it comes down to. It is difficult to think without obsession, and it is impossible to create something without a foundation that is rigorous, incontrovertible, and, in fact, to some degree repetitive. Repetition is the ritual of obsession. Repetition is a way to jumpstart the indecision of beginning. To persevere and to begin over and over again is to continue the obsession with work. Work comes out of work. In order to work you must already be working."
Convocation address of Dr. Richard Serra, 2004
"That is beautiful which is produced by the inner need, which springs from the soul."
"Concerning the Spiritual in Art,"
[There are] "the healthy minded, who only need to be born once, and [...] the sick souls, who must be twice-born in order to be happy. The result is two different conceptions of the universe of our experience. In the religion of the once-born the world is a sort of rectilinear one-storied affair, whose accounts are kept in one denomination, whose parts have just the values which naturally they appear to have, and of which a simple algebraic sum of pluses and minuses will give the total worth. Happiness and religious peace consist in living on the plus side of the account. In the religion of the twice-born, on the other hand, the world is a double-storied mystery. Peace cannot be
reached by the simple addition of pluses and elimination of minuses from life. Natural good is not simply insufficient in amount and transient, there lurks a falsity in its very being. Cancelled as it all is by death if not by early enemies, it gives no final balance, and can never be the thing intended for our lasting worship. It keeps us from our real good, rather; and renunciation and despair of it are our first step in the direction of truth. There are two lives, the natural and the spiritual, and we must lose the one before we can participate in the other."
"Varieties of Religious Experience,"
"It is the pang of separation that spreads throughout the world and gives birth to shapes innumerable in the infinite sky.
It is this sorrow of separation that gazes in silence all nights from star to star and becomes lyric among rustling leaves in rainy darkness of July.
It is this overspreading pain that deepens into loves and desires, into sufferings and joy in human homes; and this it is that ever melts and flows in songs through my poet's heart."
Rabindranath Tagore, 1913