Robert Rauschenberg, 1965
The last section of Chapter 1 in Richmond's book raises important "underlying questions" designed to help artists identify in their art its themes, how it developed, and where it is going. It is the answers to these questions that help us market our art privately and through galleries, obtain grants, pen articles and books, and so on. The author identifies this step as intermediate between completing one's work and presenting it to the public. Here are the essential underyling questions:
1. Do you know what the consistent themes of your work have been, and can you point to where your work is going?
2. Is your work developed enough that you can speak comfortably about it?
3. Do you believe that your work is relevant to present-day topics? And do you care?
4. What is the proper outlet or venue for your work?
5. What is your work about?
I've always been reluctant to undergo the mind-bending process that is required to answer these questions in a complete, logical and concise way. But, it's been necessary as I've written grant proposals, statements for galleries, catalogues for solo exhibitions, and text for books in which my work is featured, etc. Once I learned how to answer these questions I was surprised to find that I had developed the urge to make my work more meaningful and relevant. The truth is, I'd rather paint, but answering these questions is essential to moving my work from the studio into the public arena.