WHAT IS STYLE?

WHAT IS STYLE?

By the 1980s, I had been making art already for fifteen years when I learned there was a gallery on Madison Avenue that, once every month, hosted an open house for unknown artists. It was a chance to show your work to a curator. If the curator liked it, a show might follow. Armed with a selection of slides, I waited nervously until it was my turn to show what I had done.

The curator looked attentively at every image, and. perplexed, turned to me and said: “ Your work is interesting but you don’t have a style. You need a style.”

 

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OLD & NEW: DEFINING AN ARTIST'S PERSONALITY

I was reading John Elderfield’s excellent book, “The Drawings of Henri Matisse,” and came across a Matisse quotation that attracted my attention. Matisse said that In his earliest works he
“found something that was always the same which at first glance I thought to be monotonous repetition. It was the mark of my personality which appeared the same no matter what different states of mind I happened to have passed through.”

Finding and then defining this “monotonous quality” is not an easy task.

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Collaging Guston & Dubuffet

Collaging Guston & Dubuffet

What fascinates me most about making collages is how disparate elements interact with one another to create something entirely different, unexpected, than the individual parts. The process is like a mystery unfolding in front of your eyes. And the artist is the detective. Frequently, some unnoticed mark, color or line in one element interacts with another in a way that hadn’t been anticipated. Collages have this wonderful surprise that keeps me coming back for more (Work/Collages).

In this blog, I wish to create a collage of words chosen, somewhat randomly, from the essays,  lectures or interviews of two of my favorite artists: Philip Guston and Jean Dubuffet. My hope is that the juxtaposition of their words will sharpen our understanding of each artist while also broadening our view of art, and how it is made. 

I will be quoting JD from the MOMA publication The Work of Jean Dubuffet, by Peter Selz with texts by the artist, and Philip Guston, Collected Writings, Lectures, and Conversations, edited by Clark Coolidge.

 

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