Friday, June 20, 2008

Sharing the Source and a Little More

Yesterday's post (written on Wednesday evening) has generated some really great conversation. I am enjoying it a lot, too. I wanted to share with you the thinking was spurred on by this book by Ian Jackman, editor. The Artist's Mentor has a chapter titled "DWM" (...dead white males...). Here is a quote where he brings that term up to define it:

So has anything changed since 1971? Art has reflected changes in society that have taken place over that time. There surly are more opportunities for non-white, non-male artists. The canon of Western art through the end of World War II or through man-centered abstract expressionism will remain dominated by the DWM (dead white males). Most artists do not set out on a career in art trying to become great; their ambition is to make art and the Western playing field, if not even has certainly leveled out some.

So this might give you a bit more of an idea of where this editor took this idea. Basically this book is made up of a series of historical quotes which relate to each chapter. Below are a few quotes from a chapter titled, "Intention":

I don't paint pictures in the hope people will understand them. They understand or not, according to their capacity. -Pablo Picasso

I am not satisfied to tell myself: 'You are a painter, do your job and let those who can, talk.' -Max Beckmann

When an artist explains what he is doing he usually had to do one of two things: either scrap what he has explained, or make his subsequent work fit in with his explaination. Theories may be all very well for the artists himself, but they shouldn't be broadscast to other people.
- Alexander Calder

Now have you noticed not a single one of these is by a woman? In reality there are not a lot of quotes from women in this book...maybe we don't talk all that much, at all. :) Or maybe it is just not as interesting to this editor. At any rate, what are your thoughts on these ideas about intention?

I will leave you with these thoughts for the weekend. I wish for you the greatest and most creative few days.

And next week, I think we will be enjoying another Conversation. This time with Fiona Long.


San said...

Kim, another provocative, challenging question!

Intention--I'd rather talk about my intention when I set out to paint a single painting. Maybe this is a feminine perspective, to find the single incident, the personal experience, more interesting than the grand sweep of things. I really have no grand INTENTION as to why I paint. I paint because it's fun, it usually teaches me something about reality, and it's a kick when someone shares that reality enough to want to live with it!

When I set out to work on a painting, I usually have something specific in mind--a composition, a palette, dimensions, etc. And then the painting has this way of talking to me, bossing me a bit. That's where the learning about reality comes in. When I fight it, the painting doesn't work. The funny thing is often those "errors" have a way of transforming themselves into the parts of the canvas that are rich and resonant. Or maybe I'm deceived. Who knows?

sukipoet said...

Kim I love your new section of women's quotes, women you know so to speak, via blogging. That is so cool and thanks for including me.

I think a few living white males have achieved fame too, though they become more valuable post-mortem.

I think the Calder quote is a bit hard edged, leaving no grey area for flexibility. So does Beckman mean he likes to talk? IE feels it is part of his job as an artist? I like the Picasso quote as I do think art to the viewer is always so person as to whether they like it or not. You just have to make things the way YOU want, I think, and some will gravitate toward it and others won't.

I think it will be up to you and I and others to make that book with women's quotes about art.

Im looking forward to your next interview. Kim, you have been busy. I know it's a lot of work to put the interviews together. Actually, I think you have a book started already. Course me, I see a book in everything......

Andrea and Kim said...

I really understand your response, San. It is interesting once I read what you had to say I thought maybe this is why women were not quoted in the chapter on "Intention"...we don't define it in a clear, easily described way.

Your painting talking/bossing you also resonates with me. Sometimes, even the materials boss me around. I might have an intention when I make a those small canvases of which I have shown a glimpse here...but the materials quickly change that.

Would you say that more than intention, your art is about reflection?

Thanks San...this is really making me think even more about this whole subject.

Andrea and Kim said...

Hi Suki,

I am glad you like my quote section. So many times I am reading along and think I really like the way she has said that (it does seem we are very much about women, doesn't it...not that I exclude men at all). It has just unfolded this way so far.

Oh, I think there have been a lot of white males which have become very important artists to us...and we have to admit without them, we couldn't be (in many ways). I think it is a lot more about the balance and honoring the importance of them all. Sometimes, I get caught up in the whole male thing, so I think some of this is a great deal about me pushing myself to think also about them women who have paved the way for us, too.

Calder can be a bit hard edged with this quote, as you say. But I think one of the things he was saying is just what San was also saying...sometimes, it is best to keep your intention to yourself at first, then on reflection see if it fits...we all talk about how our art takes on a life of it's own. I also may be perfectly wrong, too. The other thing I have noticed in this book is a lot of the quotes are like or white...very little grey - interesting, isn't it?

You know, I think Beckmann does mean don't try to interpret what I do...let me do that! It is interesting to contemplate.

Funny, it was that Picasso quote which got me started with this intention thing. Those words all but jumped off the page into my brain.

Well, my friend, I suppose we need to begin working on that book, what do you think?

Books are way too cool...I see books a lot, too. I am not sure I have one started already, though, but thank you.

I really love doing the interviews. They are so much fun and so interesting to talk with these wonderful women (so far). I feel so honored when someone agrees to talk to me. I am glad you are looking forward to the one with Fiona...I think you will enjoy her a lot.

Thanks So Much keep making me think...okay?

~Babs said...

Hi Kim,
Another thought provoking question!
I also love the Picasso quote,(I think he was reading my mind)

About the Intention thing: I think an awful lot of hoo-rah-rah
is said about the making of art that maybe isn't always necessarily true.
My personal view.
And yes, I can be very cynical,,,but at times I see/read an awful lot of plain 'ol hype and spinning of reality from and about artists, and their intentions.
One of my instructors,( who is a fantastic painter,and very well gallery represented) said that his work often is written up as one percent truth, and 99% B.S.

I think that often, it's better to leave the 'mystery' to the viewer, and not reveal intention, or the lack thereof.
(except on blogs, of course, where most of us let it all hang out)
I also like what Suki commented, "you just have to make things the way you want,,some will gravitate toward it and others won't."

Andrea and Kim said...

I thought most people would identify with Picasso's quote. But I also think Calder has something about reflection, too. Once something is painted, then you can reflect on where inside you it came.

If I had enough room in my house and a bottomless wallet, I would love to let people figure it out for themselves! LOL

You always give me a reason to think here, Babs! I started this comment over about 5 times - it has been a long day :)

Lynette said...

It does seem like there is a glass ceiling for artists who happen to be women and I really hope that is changing. Kim, I'm really looking forward to your next interview and I didn't realize you had a section for quotes, I'm going to go read them now. I hope you have a fun and creative weekend!

~Babs said...

Maybe we've all been thinking too much today, lol!
But tomorrow is Saturday,,,let's declare it a non-thinking day!

PS: Thanks for including me in your 'quote' section! My daughter found a necklace with a pewter heart on a silver chain for my Mother's day gift. Guess what it said on the heart? I was so excited, and so was she!

Unknown said...

Hi Kim, always so interesting, your quotes and questions. I like Picasso's quote and Calder's, and think we can explain what we thought when we painted and, if we have a concept, we can explain it too. And I think Picasso's quote is slightly arrogant, too:) I would like to think that, if we explain why we paint doors or trees or portraits of people, or just colour and shape, people will understand very well if we keep the explanation simple:)

have a wonderful weekend in your studio or outside riding your bike..
PS I left a long long comment on the previous post but limboblog must have eaten it up...

Diane Widler Wenzel said...

Calder's dislike of public statements of intentions is right on for being continuously creative. My experience has been time and again is giving a title of intention to exhibits a year or so in advance. Sticking to the declared intention smothers my journey inwhich new ideas flow in the process of making paintings. All exhibits in the future will be preceeded with the intention of "Current Works."

Andrea and Kim said...

Yeah, Lynette! I think, though, as you indicated in your email before...that glass ceiling is falling down as we speak!

I am glad you are looking forward to the will be fun since Fiona is younger we will be able to see if age makes a difference! :)

I just started that quote thingy...need to add some more to it!

Thanks Lynette!

Andrea and Kim said...

Yes, I do get in my "head" modes here from time to time...

Saturday...maybe that is a good non-thinking day! :)

Hey...that is your mantra, Babs! I had to put it there! :)

You are a dear... see, I am trying not to think too much here.

Andrea and Kim said...

Limbo blog is really making me nuts eating my long posts, too. I am just about to keep a word document of my comments so I can go back and copy/paste them. Then that is another window I have to keep open as I work on the computer. I appreciate your efforts in feeding the blogsphere, know I do! :)

True, the old KISS principle works in explanations, as well, I need to remember that more. These lengthy paintings are keeping me from sassier posts...without all of this talk!

Well Picasso could sure be arrogant, that is for sure. I can see how it would read that way. And if we switched that around to another profession...say would have been considered even more arrogant. Very good point about how important it is to take care when speaking to those who are only trying to understand. Being able to appreciate their curiosity is very important. I completely agree.

Thanks Andrea!

Andrea and Kim said...

Ohhh Diane, you are so right! Those kind of things confine me a great deal, as well. Create, then pull together an exhibit.

I am a huge fan of Calder's work...he did some amazing things...and I wonder if the whole issue of not being confined has anything to do with that. Can we see/feel intention or lack of it in art?

Thanks so much...more to contemplate....sorry Babs! :)

Unknown said...

Kim, I just discovered the quotes in the sidebar. (which show me that I do not look intensely enough each time I come here:) , these are so lovely and good together:) I just love Paula's and Suki's Quote and didn't remember that I said that about sunlight:)
it is hot here in Paris and I spent the wonderful afternoon with a friend sitting at the little lake in the Bois de Boulogne and chatting, forced to yell cause they are preparing a concert on the hors-race field which is just beside the wood, and the music was to loud:) This night is the fête de la musique in France, in all towns there will be music everywhere in the cities, kind of cacophonic but great event for people who like it:)
love again
have a wonderful day
hope this one arrives at your blogend!

Andrea and Kim said...


You know, one of the problems, I need to be aware of with these blog posts is I get them in my email box and sometimes blogger doesn't send this one! But I found it and here you are! Sometimes it is something different, though.

I am glad you like the quote box...I know I don't spend enough time when I go to other blogs, so no problem there. You said that when you posted the photo of the flower in the clear vase as the light was filtering into your studio.

Your day beside the Bois de Boulogne sounds lovely...sans the yelling, though. Ah and the fete de la musique (sorry, I have no accent marks here) sounds so nice. I am not sure I would be eager to not be able to retreat from sound, but it is a very French way to promote the arts...and you can't argue with that. :)

How lovely for you to visit me here today. I always adore all you have to share.

Thank You!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kim,
I purchased "Art From Intuition" this weekend. It's as if you were there, pointing over my shoulder, there is the book.

As you may recall from my blog, I recently wrote an Artist Statement which was a requirement for a juried art show entry. Funny thing is... Now I feel I should stick to painting in the manner of what I described in my writing... Like the statement sealed my intentions in concrete. In the future when I write a new (required) statement my intentions may be totally different.

I'm riding in Calder's car... and it's a convertible... top down, wind blowing us around and around.

Andrea and Kim said...

Oh Chewy! I don't mean to be so obstinate! But I am glad you purchased the book...he is such a nice man and would probably even be happy to begin a conversation with you. He actually wrote me to say thank you for the post about the book.

I do remember your Artist Statement. I find them truly brutal and confining as you say, but those juried shows just need the words, don't they? So the question is how do you write these statements and still keep yourself open to creativity? Or maybe your intentions are so open, it will just confuse the heck out of the jury and you get in the show in a flash...totally creative approach. What do you think?

Oh yeah! The wind blowing round and round! That is Calder okay! I really love that man's stuff!

Thanks have me thinking here again about how to baffle them! :)

sukipoet said...

The part of Picasso's quote that I found irritating is "According to their capacity." As if there are only some people who have the capacity to understand.

Andrea and Kim said...

You know Suki, I completely understand this as an initial reaction to this quote. I felt the same way for an instant, but I think maybe this part was somewhat misunderstood in translation. At least that is the way I wanted to look at it. The other thing we have to consider is this was said in another time and place and there were (and sadly, still are) those who speak this way about people. I suppose, maybe wrongly, I changed the words around in my head to mean "according to their willingness". Do you think maybe I am mistaken about this?

I am guessing this has been bothering you...funny, I do the same thing with words. They can get in my head and I can't seem to shake them. And cruel words can really get under my skin.

Suki, thanks for saying how this bothers you. I do appreciate it.

Paula In Pinetop said...

OMG, there is so much to absorb here. I've not been by for a couple of days and look what I've gone and missed !!!

This is a great group and I wish we were closer so we could all get together and cackle about art.....or whatever.

I loved Chewy's comment about riding in the convertible.......yes!, that is what I want to be doing !!!

Andrea and Kim said...

Oh Paula...I am sure you were doing some lovely things over the last couple of days...and you are always thinking! No missing goes on can always go back and read what has been going on.

I feel so honored because this is an amazingly diverse group of artists who are so willing to share. I am glad you are a part of it. I know what you mean about being closer, but in reality we probably couldn't all get together at the same time. I suppose this is the next best thing.

That Chewy...she always comes up with something fun to say! Yeah, I will be there with you both in the Caldermobile! :)

Thanks Paula!