The Laws of Nature
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Seeing Your Work in a Historical Context
Lee Krasner, 1935
Chapter 2 of Wendy Richmond's book is entitled "Culture's Frames and Filters," and the first section in that chapter challenges us to describe our work in a historical context. The underlying assumption for this is that artists should understand their own work as deeply as is possible. Personally, I don't know if I agree with that assumption. Nevertheless, it's worth exploring.
Richmond gives us a method for arriving at a view of our work in a historical context:
1. describe the history of your own work
2. describe the events and circumstances during the time you were working
3. identify the influential events in the history of your artistic field.
The first question that comes to my mind is: Why? This seems like intense psychotherapy and I don't know that the answers will be particularly beneficial. Ms. Richmond provides one rationale that makes sense: doing this may help me find where I first discovered my passion. And, by looking at the works that were important to me and how I constructed them, I may be able to return to my inspiration if I've strayed from it. This could yield greater personal satisfaction and better results. OK, that makes sense.
I won't go into the details of this particular section of the book because I think that the method speaks for itself. However, I'm reminded of our previous conversations about the role of our unconscious or intuition in creating works of art. Some of us rely on it more than others, but I think we all use intuition to some degree. As much as I admire Ms. Richmond's methods, it appears that she challenges herself and her students toward a more conscious approach to making art. But, I'm only on chapter 2. While it's true that I consciously design my paintings before I begin slinging paint, eventually intuition takes over. When it's time to critique my work, conscious thought takes over. I don't know that I would attempt to view my work in a historical context as it's presented here. But, I may be wrong. Enlighten me.