“Artists who write write for a purpose”
This article launches a new column, BOOKMARKED, in which artists, critics, collectors and other guests are invited to share and comment on their favorite blogs and art-related sites (present company – artcritical – taken as read!)
As an artist I am most drawn these days to reading blogs of other working artists.
In the painter Paul Corio’s “No Hassle at the Castle”, a ‘weblog on painting, horse racing and other subjects’ (the other subjects being mostly jazz and politics) I feel I am in a conversation with an informed and critical mind. Recently, Corio came to grips with Romanticism, in response to Mark Stone’s “Henri Art Magazine”, which has been preoccupied with ‘Romanticism in America” – perhaps the single most enterprising and enlightening analysis I’ve encountered in years on this subject – one which lurks in the background of every artist’s thinking. Stone writes, for example, about DeKooning, and why he was different, especially at the end, from the other Abstract Expressionists – that his work was both transcendent and physical. More lately, Stone on Courbet is something every painter should read.
I’ve also encountered “Immaterial Culture”, by the pseudonymous d.richmond; this, again, is writing from the heart. An artist like d. richmond writes out of a need to know, for his work. Sharon L. Butler’s “Two Coats of Paint” and Joanne Mattera’s “Art Blog” are two others I frequently look at.
What sets apart the artist’s blogs is their earnestness and faith. Critics analyze and dissect, but do they write from the heart, as artists do? Artists may wish to promote themselves, but in writing they are usually working, and thinking.
It is the spirit of inquiry that sets the artists apart: they strive to understand, and the blogs give us the conversation, the searching coming to grips that once animated the New York scene when everyone lived below 14th Street.
Artists who write write for a purpose. They may be working out their own trajectories, erratic and capricious, but, mostly, they are writing out of necessity. This is a big part of what now actually moves art along; in my view, we need it.
George Hofmann is a painter who lives and works in Albany, NY. He grew up in New York, trained at the Akademie der Bildenden Kuenste in Nuremberg, Germany, and taught for many years at Hunter College. A former director of the Francis J. Greenburger Foundation, Hofmann has served on the board of Art Omi and as a visual arts juror for SUNY/NYFA. He maintains the website ArtistsResearchGroup.com, on the history of the Hunter College Art Department.