Monday, March 2, 2009
This weekend, I re-read Running With Scissors. A vaguely salacious and gossipy book by Augustine Burroughs, it is, nonetheless filled with razor-like observations and humor. It takes the horrifying and renders it into hilarity.
In the book, one of the coping mechanisms the Hope character uses to deal with her family’s nutty home life are Bible Dips. Basically, ask a question, and then open the Bible, point to a word, and “interpret” it.
In that same absurdist spirit, I decided to let (my recently relocated) copy of Art-as-Art, The selected writings of Ad Reinhardt flop open to a random page.
It opened to:
A FINE-ARTIST OR
An artist, a fine-artists or free artists,
Has always nothing to say,
And he must say this over and over again.
Especially in his work
What else is there to say?
In work or words
What in hell, on earth, or in heaven, is an artist up to when he says he has something to say?
All artists-as-artists say the same thing
The post-historic artist is the timeless artist-as-artist.
The artist-as-artist is the post-historic artist.
The post-historic artist is the artist aware of himself as artist, aware of art-as-art, aware of everything that is not art, inside or outside art.
The only way to say what an artist-as-artist is is to say what an an artist-as-artist is not.
A fine artist by definition is not a commercial or industrial or fashion or applied or useful artist.
A fine, free or liberal or abstract artist is by definition not a servile or professional or meaningful artist.
A fine artist has no use to use, no meaning for meaning, no need for any need.
A fine artist has nothing to use, has no need for any meaning, and would not use himself or his work for anything.
A fine artist by definition does not use or need any ideas or images, does not use or need any help, cannot use or help anyone or anything.
Only a bad artist thinks he has a good idea.
A good artist does not need anything.
*italics are according to the book, which was edited by Barbara Rose.
** though I do not agree with many of his tenants, I find Reinhardt endless fascinating for his output, and his humor.