John Baldessari

February 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

A conceptual artist for more than five decades, Baldessari capitalizes on the narrative and associative power of both language and images. His work is critical and often humorous and continues to call out art with a capital ‘A’.

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On Exhausting the Edit

February 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

Take a writing and see how many ways you can edit it:

  • Cut it up.
  • Black it out.
  • Re-frame it.
  • Delete every other word or every other line.
  • Fold into another persons work.
  • Think of it as a visual exercise as much as a textual one.

Excerpt from: Exhausting the Edit by Anna Riley

Prompt #3

February 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

Prompts for an artist statement

Ask yourself, what is an Artist Statement? What does it mean?

What should it do, if anything?

  • Should it describe your art?
  • Should it make you look smart?
  • Should it place you in your time and place?
  • Does it represent your art?
  • Or is it the work itself?

Think about how you would paint, sculpt, photograph, blow or stitch words? How would you build a building out of words?  Which letters or words would you use for the beams? Which for the cement, windows, floors? How would you furnish you building with words?  

Influences & Intersections:  

  1. Make a list the artists that you are most intrigued by.
  2. Make a list of artists whose work you admire.
  3. And a final list of artist whose work you hate.
  4. Find writings about them and make a list by pulling out key words from each.
  5. Take one word from each list and link them to one of your pieces.



  1. Write a list of all of the materials you use in your work. (2min)
  2. Write a list of things you think about when you are working? (3min)
  3. Describe where you make your work: (5min)
    • Your studio, the view, what you see or hear there?
    • Turn that description into a list of key words.
  4. Take ten (10) minutes to describe in narrative form the making of the same piece, try to explain it in detail in the simplest possible terms?
  5. Rewrite it, inserting one word from your lists every fifth word.

Example: Slap something anything on stone on a piece of paper charcoal continues to throw things handwritten on this ugly build up of material voice until you realize it might voice look good to draw glue a huge rock form oil paint at the top exposed board exposed outline of charcoal, paint glass around it.Go through and edit out words that don’t work, and read aloud.

1. Take your lists and create a rhythm: 1  2 3, 4 – 1 2 3, 4 – 1 2

Example: stone sand paint glass marble clay film text frame light

2. Use one of those rhythmic sequences in a statement.


Finally, take all of this compiled information and create a draft for an artist statement.


Cy Twombly

February 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

Cy Twombly. Petals of Fire, 1989


It has been said that Cy Twombly’s paintings resemble writing, or are a kind of écriture. Certain critics have seen parallels between his canvases and wall graffiti. This makes sense. In my experience, however, his paintings refer to more than all the walls I pass in cities and gaze at, or the walls on which I too once scrawled names and drew diagrams; his paintings, as I see them, touch upon something fundamental to a writer’s relationship with her or his language.

A writer continually struggles for clarity against the language he’s using or, more accurately, against the common usage of that language. He doesn’t see language with the readability and clarity of something printed out. He sees it, rather as a terrain full of illegibilities, hidden paths, impasses, surprises, and obscurities. Its maps is not a dictionary but the whole of literature and perhaps everything ever said. It’s obscurities, it’s lost senses, its self-effacement come about for many reasons – because of the way words modify each other, write themselves over each other, cancel one another out, because the unsaid always counts for as much, or more, than the said, and because language can never cover what it signifies. Language is always an abbreviation.

It was Proust who once remarked that all true poetry consists of words written in a foreign language. Every one of us is born with a mother tongue. Yet poetry is motherless.

I’ll try to make what I’m saying simpler. From time to time I exchange letters and drawings with a Spanish friend. I do not (unhappily) speak Spanish, I know a few words, and I can use a dictionary. Often in the letters I receive there are quotations in Spanish from poets – Borges, Juarroz, Neruda, Lorca. And I reply with other quotations of poems in Spanish, which I have sought out. The letters are hand-written and, as I carefully trace the letters of strange words in what is to me a foreign tongue, I have the sense, as at no other time, of walking in the furrows of a poem, across the terrain of poetry.

Cy Twombly’s paintings are for me landscapes of this foreign and yet familiar terrain. Some of them appear to be laid out under a blinding noon sun, others have been found by touch at night. In neither case can any dictionary of words be referred to, for the light does not allow it. Here in these mysterious paintings we have to rely on upon other accuracies: accuracies of tact, of longing, of loss, of expectation.

I know of no other visual Western artist who has created an oeuvre that visualizes with living colors the silent space that exists between and around words. Cy Twombly is the painterly master of verbal silence.

Copyright John Berger 2002.

References: Audible Silence: 
Cy Twombly at Daros
Exhibition catalogue, Loewenbraeu-Areal in Zurich, 2002

Go see this one on your next visit to the RISD Museum !!!

For more on: Cy Twombly

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