Instead of First Holy Communion, instead of a Bar Mitzvah, there should be a solo show. Instead of wafers and wine, its wine and cheese. I cherish the sensibility of art as religion, but maybe not at all in the religious sense. Just that in art we have our cosmogeny, our way of understanding the universe, life, and death.
Found a small bit: September 2005 Todd Gibson wrote about Gregory Amenoff’s response to artist queries in Art on Paper. Gibson’s summary read as follows:
-Artists drive the bus (not critics, curators, art historians, etc.)
-Let your studio be a sanctuary
-Don’t be afraid to do dumb things in the studio
-Keep away from art fairs (“Instead visit a museum and spend time in the wing housing art from centuries past. You will be rejuvenated not demoralized.”)
-Support your fellow artists as they support you
-Read biographies of artists
-A life in art is a long race not a short sprint
I have an old casette tape I made of Nick Marsicano speaking to some students, once, in 1983…. something to the effect that we needed to look at each other’s work, visit each other’s studios – in short; be involved with one another. Funny, though, artists are so often NOT that way; but carping, competitive, and just outright ungenerous.
I’m going to keep thinking on this issue; and maybe find some more to post on the issue.
Ric Hirst says
I picked olives with 3, 75+ year old Italians today. With their passing will pass a sensibility nutured for over 2,000 years. This is the last generation of the mezzogiorno; in the north it was a life centered around around small holding agriculture. In compensation has come industrialization, cars, healthcare, indoor plumbing and gas heat.
I think of this often because I have a certain misplaced and displaced nostalgia for an ambience I never experienced: way too much romanticism. In fact, I thought of this today as I was in the studio repairing my chisels after they had been beaten up by an ill-advised encounter with the wrong stone.
My studio is in a cantina right across the street. Every time I go in there to work I feel as if I am reliving the mezzogiorno. I have this sense that when I work in this ratty, carved out space I am in an earlier century. I work at the front archway. Passersby comment on my work; some positive, some critical. No matter. Their interest is part of that ancient Italian sensibility. They like artist/artisans. They seem to enjoy the fact that I work solo per mi piace, non per vende. They then tell me about their campo which they call il mio paradiso. They do it also for pleasure. Of course they obtain food, great food for their labors; which incidently they generously share with me.
When you were quoting Amenoff’s ‘rules’ he mentioned “let your studio be a sanctuary”. Well, as you can see, this studio is a sanctuary that is sanctified by working in the midst of an old civilization, albeit one that is passing away. In new york it is different. Artists/artisans were never cherished. There is an emptiness to the very young American civilization; a way of life defined by going somewhere else and running away from growing food. In America I feel as if I should be ‘accomplishing something’ in my studio; in Italy I have no need to ‘accomplish. I guess you might say that is one of the ‘dumb things’ I do in my Italian studio.
Unlike the Italians I know, Americans (for many reasons) have too much fear of each other to be generous in spirit. So I guess that business competitiveness spills over from artist to artist. It seems the last time generosity was a hallmark of the artistic environment was the 30’s through the 50’s when artists had no sales anyway. The community was small and they came to live in the slums of New York. Although it was the depression it didn’t hurt that they were embroiled in a passionate mass movement for change. Or anyway that’s what I read in many artist’s biographies (notably the Smithsonian archives)
All this seems so far away from the outlook of the Art World. I have really no idea of that business universe. However. its goal (as reported) does not seem to include discovering oneself, one’s sensibilities. That life needs critics et al to drive the bus. Otherwise the business would not exist. It may be that there are two types of solo shows. The Art World solo show which aims to sell; then there’s the other one with news to bring.
Is this a comment or a desparate plea for conversation about art.