There is one book to me, that has stayed above everything else that is written about being an artist.
photo : Tiina Hölli from the book's page
Agnes Martin : Hiljaisuus taloni lattialla
Vapaan Taidekoulun julkaisusarja
"Pohjois-amerikkalaisen nykytaiteen puheenvuoro"
Publisher : Vapaa Taidekoulu 1990, Finland.
Vapaa Taidekoulu - Free Art Scool in Helsinki was established in 1935 as an alternative to academic art schooling in Finland. Publications of the school have become legendary since the " publishing activities of the Free Art School were initiated in 1978, when the famous Interaction of Color by Josef Albers was translated into Finnish and published in cooperation with the artist. The enthusiasm and interest created by this book encouraged the school to continue as a publisher ", is told on the school's site.
This book is a unique compilation made in Free Art School Helsinki in the turn of a decade, when the decadence of the yuppie decade 80's was falling into the sudden and deep decadence of the depression decade of the 90's in Finland. This compilation was made by a Finnish editorial staff consisting of artist/lecturer/architect/writer/influencers ( Tor Arne - Carolus Enckell - Juhani Pallasmaa ) - an impressive anthology of the writings, hand written notes and public speeches of Canadian/American abstract painter Agnes Martin (1912-2004).
The book "Agnes Martin : Hiljaisuus taloni lattialla" includes a lot of previously unpublished material, and at that time, as the book and all the work for it was made before the digital age, the book conceals beautifully its aesthetical surprise and rewards readers even more today than it did in the 90's, I should think.
Lots of work was done by the Finnish editorial staff to gather this book from little hand written notes, transcribing videos et cetera. The book was unique worldwide. It is so cool to read from Acknowledgements that
" (...) Most of all we are grateful to Ms. Agnes Martin herself for her personal support and invaluable help during the preparation of this publication. "
Carolus Enckell writes about Agnes Martin in the foreword :
" (Agnes Martin) kuuluu siihen sukupolveen, joka teki toisen maailmansodan jälkeisen amerikkalaisen kuvataiteen maailmankuuluksi. Ominaista tälle sukupolvelle on ollut sankarillinen ja ihannoiva suhtautuminen taiteilijan kutsumukseen. Taideteos ei ole pelkästään osaamisen ja taiteellisen lahjakkuuden tuote, vaan ensisijaisesti todiste taiteilijan kehitysasteesta ihmisenä. Kun taiteellinen kehitys on sidoksissa ihmisen henkiseen kehitykseen, luomistyöstä tulee introspektiivistä toimintaa, jonka kautta taiteilijan oman olemassaolon merkitys paljastuu. Taiteen on oltava luonteeltaan ylevää. "
I will make an effort to translate the quote from Carolus Enckell's foreword in English, because here is the essence of why the content of this book is so dear to me too. Pardon me for shortcomings in interpreting :
" (Agnes Martin) belongs to the generation that made the post-war world American visual art famous. Characteristic of this generation has been a heroic and admiring attitude towards the artist's vocation. A work of art is not only the product of know-how and artistic talent, but primarily a proof of the artist's stage of development as a human being. When the artistic development is linked to the intellectual ( mental, spiritual, cognitive ) development of the human being, creative work becomes interactive, through which the significance of the artist's own existence is revealed. Art must be sublime in nature. "
How did I find this marvelous book that came to mean so much to me ?
My background - how I started and finished my art studies
The said depression in Finland in the 90's hit most of us pretty hard, and still does, and I was no exception. I was a technical student at the time. I did my practical work and finished my technical studies during the worst and lowest low years of the depression. To get a steady job was not an offered option anywhere on any field at the time, and I started to think more deeply my premises about work in general as a concept, and what I am to do with my life. According to C. G. Jung, this was no surprise at the age of 35 - so it became the time for a change in my life, I was thinking - once again.
How to live a good life ? I was calmly and very zen asking this to myself in the midst of this depression mishmash. Yes sure, real zen like ...
In the search of how to live a good life, I turned more and more to philosophy, eastern knowledge, language studies - and finally started my art studies, first with taking several art courses in 1996 - 6 years after the Agnes Martin -book was published. Already the following year 1997 I got in as a full-time preliminary student to a small art school in southern Finland called Pekka Halosen akatemia. And the following year 1998 I took the entrance examination and got in the basic level study program of next 3 years to get a vocational degree.
After 3 years - that first year of courses, and then those my first two years of full-time preliminary general studies 1997-1999 there in the small art school, students were supposed to choose their niche.
So ... hmm.
Because I came into the art as late as at the age of 35 and as a ridiculously virgin-minded newbie, this decision gave me a remarkable challenge. I spent the whole preceding summer vacation in uttermost perplexed neti neti -positions. I had no specific discipline or any steady practice from early childhood, and I had no primary genre or technique.
Since 1999, with the wonderful 100 % backup from my professors Irma Tonteri and Pertti Summa, I attended simultaneously both departments, the graphic arts and the painting departments, because I could not decide. The result of this of course was, that I was totally confused, which I still am, but in joy, and I don't give a shit about anything really, but one must ask, did I ever ?
As a conclusion, I then made two serial graduation works both as an absurd structure presentation and a form of an expanded diary. First in my basic level graduation work 2001 I specialized in conceptual art but graduating from the graphic arts department - and then 1,5 years later, after continuing with my postgraduate studies in painting department, I made my second degree graduation work 2002 specialized in painting - and both graduation works as a sidework in a form of a diary. Both, my vast archiving project since 1996 as my basic graduation work, and my painting graduation work, are now ( and already were at the time ) part of an extremely fragile and sensitive conceptual time-space art project ... which is still going on ... and on ... and on ... and on ... ... : DDD
1997 - 2002 in Pekka Halosen akatemia I studied painting with Finnish painters Anna-Leena Vilhunen, Lotta Määttänen, Kaisu Aro, Pertti Summa and Matti Kurki. My first official full-time painting painting professor ( herself a true painter teaching us only painting ) in art school 1998 - 1999 was Lotta Määttänen (1968) - before her I had studied painting as part of the general art studies. Now for the first time came forward the spiritual aspects of painting.
Lotta Määttänen was the one who gave me my two most valuable pieces of advice at that time : in the beginning she told us to read this book of Agnes Martin's writings, if we want to know what painting is, and in the end of that her year of being a professor there, during the final face to face talks, she told me that " Tiina always, always, always, have lots and lots of empty supports prepared for painting, ready for painting, all the time. "
She was right of course, with both of her advice.
I had not heard of Agnes Martin before that.
I am so glad I did not waste any time but followed Lotta Määttänen's advice immediately and read the book at that early point of my studies. I think reading this book had, it might have had the strongest influence on my speed and depth of developing in my art and philosophy studies at the time, but of course - the student also has to be ready, eager and willing for the input.
First I borrowed the book from library, became captivated, and later bought a copy of the book to myself - and the price tag shows the date of the purchase : January 24, 2002. It was the month when I had just started seriously to paint my ongoing series of square colour studies called " 4 x 28 = 107 ". When reading this book, a melting occurred - the fragmentary nature of the notes became a huge comprehensible whole in me, and I saw the whole as a whole - what she ment, the empty spaces between the lines, a process I cannot explain in any other way than an expanding of my brain somehow - a click. I was looking directly in her way of thinking, and it was cool. It was The Explanation. Afterwards I have grabbed this book each time I was in doubt, and it never failed me yet. Never.
After my art studies, some conclusions and side effects occurred ...
... since then as I have honed all I do
and cleared and -
Nothing will remain.
Totally, absolutely, perfectly and concretely.
- Nothing will remain. -
This is my Immaterial Art Conclusion so far.
All our endeavours as " abstract -directed " artists achieve a totally fresh and " different " level of meaning, when contrasted with T H A T ( above described ) " - Nothing will remain. - "
[ - and, I also am in a profound opinion (and inner insight) of the -value- of constantly and continuously setting my (artistic) actions in contrast with that (above described). It truely gives one a whole new perspective of one's doings. ]
As an abstract painter - abstract to me is Immateriality.
This has led me into a Quest for Immateriality in Art.
A concept ?
- not really a concept - but some fragmentary notes -
- to say one more : to be an "abstract-driven" artist (to me) does not mean unmeaningful (useless, worthless, for fun) working ("without guidelines" - without a structure or planning or an idea), but I take it most seriously as a way to BE.
It is not a Question of technique or -isms,
but a Quest of Immateriality in Art
- and can it be achieved.
My words here leave me bothered because of my lacking literary skills.
To be more clear --- ( trial # 2 ) :
each of us (abstract -driven artists, especially, but also each human being individually) should be / ought to be aware of The Fact, that
what I do / make here -- W I L L -- .d.i.s.a.p.p.e.a.r.
--- I T I S
--: N O T :--
MENT TO STAND STILL THRough TIMES ---
( no body is that special )
--> how does this affect me personally in my art (making) ?
--> time spend doing / making "my art" is more valuable
than the outcome.
The outcome is a side product. If it affects others, it proves something,
but not necessarily so. What happens to it, is not of such importance.
My process in me is the art / what is happening in me.
Its lasting effect on me.
There is no other measure.
Not money, not fame, not popularity.
Artists are in different phases in their inner roads.
Each road and phase manifests itself in its own particular manner.
To bash (abstract) art is like crushing some seedlings in their beginning.
Without being aware of the cornucopia of art, an artist cannot ever be sure, from where does her own imagery/(-ism) rise -
[ it will always remain hidden/ a belief only, that "inner certainty" not being of true nature, but of possible, unaware imprinting, programming etc. - because only with negating can one reduce into one true "self" (as an artist) / (to find the true core -to-be-able-to-be-the-channel-of-art /non-Ego) ],
- and if/when/as bashing/crushing a particular or several "-isms" (abstract or whatever) /( aspects of life, a road, a phase - in fact, in denial of a thing ) a person does the most harm to oneself as an artist-to-be = bashing the only possibility to find out more, evolve, be mobile and develop.
How to be aware ?
How to differentiate, discern, truely, The Voice of one's own Heart ?
I do not, cannot, I have not yet been able to grasp any other way to this than through practice, practice, practice - practice being sincere, authentic, real, genuine in one's quest. Gradually, one starts to discern.
But how to practice being sincere and authentic !
Yes - through hearing The Voice of one's own Heart.
And there you are then with yourself again and your circular argument.
Note 1 : finding out, through negating, resulting in reducing oneself, is NOT same as bashing. Bashing is a reaction, whereas aware process of negating is an action.
Note 2 : negating is not an active action, it is allowing reducing to happen in oneself as a natural change.
Onward, on the subject of negating in order to reduce. I must add, that there are some rare cases, when artists have truely been omnipotent and practiced a unique art practice through decades remaining steady on their course, which was originally purely constructed out of their own true nature, right from the beginning - purged before being influenced. And still remain unique compared to dominant "reality". Why, for a while I thought I had even met one of these rare individuals, so it is quite possible that these specimen could exist somewhere ? But the primary condition is to Be BEING REAL, genuine, sincere, authentic - from the first push to the last line. However, and nevertheless, most of us mortals are influenced by the surrounding culture, and quite unaware of that affect on our "inner" art.
That is why ( I repeat ) it is the most foolish thing to do to bash an art form / whatever (to deny whatever phenomenon there is) ( because bashing it in the world means bashing it in the inner world means bashing a possibility from oneself to grow as a human being ). I say with bias : especially to bash abstract art, which (to me) is my reduced art form - so (to me) it is the purest form of art ( so far ).
Abstract and expression are essential.
Nothing is more important.
I will try to edit my thoughts here as they get clearer if they do.
Of course none of these four might also ever happen.
Maybe not that good idea to hold your breath there waiting
Tate's glossary of art items
/ abstract art
/ abstract expressionism
I recommended further reading from
Maria Popova's Brain Pickings :
The Reconstructionists - Agnes Martin
Agnes Martin on Art, Happiness, Pride, and Failure:
A Rare Vintage Interview with the Reclusive Artist
35 Odd Jobs Celebrated Painter Agnes Martin Held
Before She Became an Artist
Artist Agnes Martin on Inspiration, Interruptions,
Cultivating a Creative Atmosphere,
and the Only Type of Person You Should Allow Into Your Studio
Beloved Artist Agnes Martin on Our Greatest Obstacle to Happiness
and How to Transcend It
Artsy Magazine Editorial - Alexxa Gotthardt Jul 17, 2018 5:12 pm
Agnes Martin on How to Be an Artist
Artsy Magazine Editorial - Alina Cohen Sep 27, 2018 4:57 pm
Agnes Martin and Navajo Craftswomen Made Spiritual Works Inspired by the Desert
| Agnes Martin |
written & published in - i like - Collection - © 2016 Tiina Hölli 2016-03-11 23:40
and edited much 2016-03-13 09:45 - 2017-11-08 23:53 - 2017-11-10 00:17
edited some 2018-07-19 22:22
- Collection -
The whole string of
... says she
doesn't give a sht,
[ paskat nakkaa ]
but still thinks amazingly much about
and Being ...
... has some Knowledge
and / or vice versa.
[ Loves Immaterial ]
F. A. Q. : W T F
- Collection -
is a selection of artists and phenomenons
that she likes.
You may also like
Tiina Hölli in :
- Collection -
Being Nothing - Hidden Blog 11
- shhh-code171117 -
ha ! you found this ! here