In Their Own Words

Sometimes the words spoken by artists paint indelible images of their spirit. Here are a few you might enjoy:

Jasper Johns: "At times I will attempt to do something which seems quite uncalled for in the painting, so that the work doesn't proceed so logically from where it is, but will go somewhere else."

Gilbert & George: "Our reason for making pictures is to change people and not to congratulate them on being how they are."

Sandro Chia: "On one hand, the history of art is fascinating and it attracts me....But then, this tradition is also telling you that you can't be an artist, that there is no room for you."

Lucas Samaras: "I wait until dark before I take out the camera. Fewer interruptions. Nostalgia, cuddliness, and other warm feelings of the night envelop my psyche and chase away logic, anxiety, and the needs of other people. I have the radio or tv on, as an emotionally steady artificial waterfall."

Claes Oldenburg: "I am for an art that is political - erotic - mystical, that does something other than sit on its ass in a museum....I am for an art that takes its form from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself."

Arthur Ollman: These pictures "are experiential tracings - they extend my senses and show me where I have been."

Jennifer Bartlett: "In the dictionary, 'day' is defined as an interval of light between nights. Night is perpetual. Day is a gift."

Keith Haring: "When the act of creation is really successful, the 'thing' creates itself. The artist is only a vehicle, a tool. Once created, the 'thing' has a life of its own."

Judy Pfaff: "Peripheral vision is and always has been crucial to my work, because there is a false sense that you know it if a work can be seen all at once."

Julian Schnabel: "I don't know what the face of beauty is, but I know what it feels like after I've seen it."

Wassily Kandinsky: "The experience...of paints emerging from the tube: One squeeze of the fingers, and out came these strange beings, one after the other, which one calls colors - exultant, solemn, brooding, dreamy, self-absorbed, deeply serious, with roguish exuberance, with a sigh of release, with a deep sound of mourning, with defiant power and resistance, with submissive suppleness and devotion, with obstinate self-control, with sensitive, precarious balance, living an independent life of their own."

Rene Magritte: "The function of painting is to make poetry visible."

Jean Dubuffet: "I have given to an insignificant detail...enormous and completely arbitrary importance, even to the point of making a legendary hero out of the hairs in the ear."

Joseph Brodsky, in a poem called "New Life":

"Ultimately one's unbound

curiosity about these empty zones,

about these objectless vistas,

is what art seems to be all about."

Benjamin De Casseres: "I find my supremest joy in my estrangements....I desire to become unfamiliar with myself...I cling to nothing, stay with nothing, am used to nothing, hope for nothing. I am a perpetual minute."

c.Corinne Whitaker 2007