*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
One of the main differences between the young girl who drew a line in chalk from the Metropolitan Museum all the way to her home on Park Avenue and the young woman who drew lines on canvas and paper twenty years later was that the latter understood the willfulness that drove the child. She was facing “the monster,” the consuming need to create, which was beyond her control but no longer beyond her comprehension. Helen [Frankenthaler] had long understood that her gift set her apart, and that it would be nearly impossible to describe how and why without sounding arrogant or cruel. “It’s saying I’m different, I’m special, consider me differently,” she explained years later. “And it’s also on the other side, a recognition that one is lonely, that one is not run of the mill, that the values are different, and yet we all go into the same supermarkets… and we all are moved one way or the other by children and seasons, and dreams. So the art separates you.”
The separation she described was not merely the result of what one did, whether it be painting or sculpting or writing poetry. Helen said the distance between an artist and society was due to a quality both tangible and intangible and intrinsic, a “spiritual” or “magical” aspect that nonartists did not always understand and were sometimes frightened by. “They want you to behave a certain way. They want you to explain what you do and why you do it. Or they want you removed, either put on a pedestal or victimized. They can’t handle it.” Helen concluded that existing outside so-called normal life was simply the price an artist paid to create.
A: This is an excellent question and one I like to revisit because with all the day-to-day frustrations and disappointments that are a normal part of an artist’s life, it is easy to forget what is important.
First, I make art because I have a gift and a desire to share it with others. To not develop, express, and share all that I have to say through my work is unthinkable.
Second, I make art because it is what gives my life direction and purpose. I believe that each human being has his or her own quest, driven by passion, to fulfill a certain duty. Recall Joseph Campbell’s, “The Hero’s Journey.” I need to make art in order to feel that I am living up to my highest potential.
Third, for inexplicable reasons (to me, anyway) soft pastel is an undervalued medium. I fell in love with pastel above all other media and hope to demonstrate that great art can be created with it. This is one of the drives that keeps me steadily working.
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
I think it’s terribly important that people have always made structures that are better and more rigorous and more demanding than we as an audience can live up to for every single moment. Serious art should be better than you are. I think my plays are more lucid, more rigorous, than I, Richard, am in my life. I’m a stumble bum like all the rest of us. Create art that is better than you are able to manifest in normal life.
Richard Foreman in Anne Bogart’s Conversations with Anne: Twenty-four Interviews