Inside the Painter's Studio
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"Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work."
Inside an art gallery, it is easy to forget that the paintings there are the end products of a process involving not only creative inspiration, but also plenty of physical and logistical details. It is these "cruder," more mundane aspects of a painter's daily routine that motivated Brooklyn artist Joe Fig to embark almost ten years ago on a highly unorthodox, multilayered exploration of the working life of the professional artist. Determined to ground his research in the physical world, Fig began constructing a series of diorama-like miniature reproductions of the studios of modern art's most legendary painters, such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. A desire for firsthand references led Fig to approach contemporary artists for access to their studios. Armed with a camera and a self-made "Artist's Questionnaire," Fig began a journey through the workspaces of some of today's most exciting contemporary artists.
Inside the Painter's Studio collects twenty-four remarkable artist interviews, as well as exclusive visual documentation of their studios. Featured artists were asked a wide range of questions about their day-to-day creative life, covering everything from how they organize their studios to what painting tools they prefer. Artists open up about how they set a creative mood, how they choose titles, and even whether they sit or stand to contemplate their work. Also included are a selection of Fig's meticulously detailed miniatures. In this context Fig's diminutive sculpturesreproducing minutiae of the studio, from paint-tube labels and paint splatters on the floor to the surface texture of canvasesbecome part of a fascinating new form of portraiture as diorama. Inside the Painter's Studio offers a rare look into the self-made universe of the artist's studio. Inside the Painter's Studio features interviews with Gregory Amenoff, Ross Bleckner, Chuck Close, Will Cotton, Inka Essenhigh, Eric Fischl, Barnaby Furnas, April Gornik, Jane Hammond, Mary Heilmann, Bill Jensen, Ryan McGinness, Julie Mehretu, Malcolm Morley, Steve Mumford, Philip Pearlstein, Matthew Ritchie, Alexis Rockman, Dana Schutz, James Siena, Amy Sillman, Joan Snyder, Billy Sullivan, and Fred Tomaselli.
neglected. So using this easel I can keep the painting in exactly the right place. Oh wow, [the easel is] so easy to move around. Exactly. And that’s so great and it has been just really, really excellent! I actually think I kind of like the romantic idea of easel painting because it seems so outdated and silly. I really had so much fun buying an easel. I thought, “Wow, now I’m a real artist, I have an easel!” How did you end up getting to this subject matter with your paintings? A few years ago
representational painting, but it’s not figurative painting. It’s figurative in that it is recognizable imagery. In college I tried a lot of different things. I really liked formal abstraction. I did hard-edge, color-field painting. Then I decided I was interested in conceptual art, and that’s how I ended up going to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and graduating from there, because it [the college’s Fine Arts program] was so conceptually based. I was taking photographs and putting
brought to New York was twelve drawings, oilon-paper drawings of these spirals. They consisted of three to four spirals, and that’s what started the work here. About a year or two later—I came to New York in ’71—I was showing with Fischbach Gallery, which was a very big gallery, thanks to Ronnie Bladen,1 who at that time was a very close friend. Psychologically, I had a tremendous amount of trouble showing my work. I sold everything I made, everything was successful, but my work was much more
that as an artist you live by? No. What advice would you give a young artist who is just starting out? I think one of the really helpful clichés is, you know, imagine you are hit by a truck and dying in the middle of the street. You ask yourself, “Did you do the work that you were really meant to do? Did you beat around the bush?” ’Cause time is short. Have a sense of urgency, goddamn it! [laughs] That’s really the motto. alexis rockman 173 Dana Schutz: October 7, 2003 2006. Mixed media, 11
and persist in doing it. ross bleckner 33 Chuck Close Summer 2004 (detail) 2004–5, Mixed media, 24 × 31 × 42 inches Chuck Close NoHo, New York City April 25, 2006 When did you consider yourself a professional artist, and when were you able to dedicate yourself full-time to that pursuit? Well, it’s a multipart answer I suppose. I guess I knew I wanted to be an artist from the very beginning, like age five. I started studying art when I was eight, and I was never interested in doing