Q: I have been always fascinated with the re-contexualizing power of Art and with the way some objects or even some concepts often gain a second life when they are “transduced” on a canvas or in a block of marble. So I would like to ask you if in your opinion, personal experience is an absolutely indespensable part of a creative process. Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience?
A: Certainly personal experience is an indispensable and inseparable part of the creative process. For me art and life are one and I suspect that is true for most artists. When I look at each of my pastel paintings I can remember what was going on in my life at the time I made it. Each is a sort of veiled autobiography waiting to be decoded and in a way, each is also a time-capsule of the larger zeitgeist. It’s still a mystery how exactly this happens but all lived experience – what’s going on in the world, books I’m reading and thinking about, movies I’ve seen that have stayed with me, places I’ve visited, etc. – overtly and/or not so obviously, finds its way into the work.
Life experience also explains why the work I do now is different from my work even five years ago. In many ways I am not the same person.
The inseparableness of art and life is one reason that travel is so important to my creative process. Artists always seek new influences that will enrich and change our work. To be an artist, indeed to be alive, is to never stop learning and growing.
Comments are welcome!
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
What one writes at twenty-one is a cry, does one think of a cry that it ought to have been cried differently? The language is still so thin about one in these years, the cry pierces through and just takes along what is left clinging to it. The development will always be this, that one makes one’s language fuller, thicker, firmer (heavier), and of course there is sense in that only for one who is sure that the the cry too is growing in him ceaselessly, irresistibly, so that later, under the pressure of countless atmospheres, it will issue evenly from every pore of the almost impenetrable medium…
Talent, you understand, scarcely has significance any more in our day, since a certain dexterity of expression has become general, where is it not? Hence succeeding still means something only where the highest, utmost is achieved, and then one is again liable to think that just this unsurpassable something, once it appears in person, is in itself successful.
And so there is no real ground for concern, only that we want never to remain behind our heart and never to be in advance of it: that is probably needful. Thus we arrive at everything, each at what is his.
Jane Bannard Greene and M.D. Herter Norton editors, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke 1910 – 1926
Comments are welcome!