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Painting With Light

Painting With Light
by Rick Doble


Most writing on art is by people who are not artists;
thus all the misconceptions.

(Quoted in The Blaue Reiter Almanac,
Edited by Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc, 1914)

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Please note: A number of the quotes used here were compiled under one cover in the wonderful source book:
Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book for Artists and Critics, Edited by Herschel B. Chipp, 664 pages, University of California Press, 1968.


The poet becomes a seer, by a long, immense, and conscious disorder of all the senses.
Arthur Rimbaud

I often think the night is more alive and more richly coloured than the day.
Vincent van Gogh
to his brother Theo
Letter 533, Arles, 8 September 1888

A picture used to be a sum of additions. In my case a pictures is a sum of destructions. I do a picture -- then I destroy it. In the end, though, nothing is lost.
Conversation, 1935 published in Cahiers d'Art, Paris, X, 1935.

When I an in my painting, I'm not aware of what I'm doing. It is only after a sort of get acquainted period that I see what I have been about. I have no fears about making changes, destroying the image, etc. because the painting has a life of its own.
Jackson Pollock
Statement, 1947

At a certain moment the canvas began to appear to one American painter after another as an arena in which to act -- rather than as a space in which to reproduce, re-design, analyze, or express an object, actual or imagined. What was to go on the canvas was not a picture but an event.
Harold Rosenberg
The American Action Painter, 1952

Art lies in the continual struggle to come near to the sensory side of objects.
Francis Bacon
Statements, 1952-1955

---One thing which has never been really worked out is how photography has completely altered figurative painting.
---You know in my case all an accident....Perhaps one could say it's not an accident, because it becomes a selective process what part of the accident one chooses to preserve....
Francis Bacon
Interview, 1963


The present isolation of the rare, genuine artist is absolutely unavoidable for the moment.
Franz Marc
The Blaue Reiter Almanac
Edited by Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc, 1914

The solitary visionaries are despised or regarded as abnormal and eccentric.
Wassily Kandinsky
Concerning the Spiritual in Art
Dover Publications (reprint of the first English translation of 1914), 1977.

The unfriendliness of society to his activity is difficult for the artist to accept. Yet this very hostility can act as a lever for true liberation. Freed from a false sense of security and community, the artist can abandon his [her] plastic bank-book, just as he [she] has abandoned other forms of security. Both the sense of community and of security depend on the familiar. Free of them, transcendental experiences become possible.
Mark Rothko
The Romantics Were Prompted, 1947


I want to be far from the European struggle for money....Free at last, without money trouble, I'll be able to love, to sing and to die.
Paul Gauguin
from a letter to his wife, 1890

Our minds, which are even now only just awakening after years of materialism, are infected with the despair of unbelief, of lack of purpose and ideal. The nightmare of materialism, which has turned the life of the universe into an evil, useless game, is not yet past.
Wassily Kandinsky
Concerning the Spiritual in Art
Dover Publications (reprint of the first English translation of 1914), 1977.


---The all-important spark of inner [spiritual] life is at present only a spark.
---The spirit like the body, can be strengthened and developed by frequent exercise.
Wassily Kandinsky
Concerning the Spiritual in Art
Dover Publications (reprint of the first English translation of 1914), 1977.

There are two kinds of reality: physical reality, apprehended by the senses, and spiritual reality created emotionally and intellectually by the conscious or subconscious powers of the mind.
Hans Hofmann
excerpts from his teaching

What really counts is to strip the soul naked. Painting or poetry is made as we make love; a total embrace, prudence thrown to the wind, nothing held back...
Joan Miro
from an interview with Georges Duthuit, 1936

These drawings seem to me to sum up observations that I have been making for many years on the characteristics of a drawing, characteristics that do not depend on the exact copying of natural forms, nor on the patient assembling of exact details, but on the profound feeling of the artist before the objects which he has chosen, on which his attention is focused, and the spirit of which he has penetrated.
Henri Matisse
Exactitude is Not Truth, 1947

This artist has fire -- rather like a van Gogh painting -- a touch of the savage -- good for art.
Quote from the film Humoresque, 1946
with Joan Crawford and John Garfield


---We are...primitives of a new sensitiveness...
---Our art will probably be accused of tormented and decadent cerebralism. But we shall merely answer that we are, on the contrary, the primitives of a new sensitiveness, multiplied hundredfold, and that our art is intoxicated with spontaneity and power.
The Futurist Manifestos
Futurist Painting: Technical Manifesto
April 11, 1910

Picasso invented a free and mobile perspective and form, used for too many centuries as the inanimate support of color, finally recovers its right to life and to instability.
Jean Metzinger
in an article on Cubism in the Pan, 1910

Art does not reproduce the visible; rather it makes visible.
Paul Klee
Creative Credo, 1920

---First, [the artist] does not attach such intense importance to natural form as do so many realist critics, because for him [her] these final forms are not the real stuff of the process of natural creation. For he [she] places more value on the powers which do the forming than on the final forms themselves.
---...the artist must be forgiven if he [she] regards the present state of outward appearances in his [her] own particular world as accidentally fixed in time and space. And as altogether inadequate compared with his [her] penetrating vision and depth of feeling.
---...chosen are those artists who penetrate to the region of that secret place where primeval power nurtures all evolution. There, where the power-house of all time and space -- call it brain or heart of creation -- activates each function; who is the artist who would not dwell there?
Paul Klee
On Modern Art, 1924
Faber and Faber Limited, 1987.

Figures were never for me a compact mass but like a transparent construction.
Alberto Giacometti
Letter to Pierre Matisse, 1947

I suppose I am interested, above all, in investigating the golden ability of the artist to achieve a metamorphosis of quite ordinary things into something wonderful and extraordinary...
Eduardo Paolozzi
The Metamorphosis of Ordinary Things, 1959

Everyday life is only an illusion behind which lies the reality of dreams... It is not only MY dreams. My belief is that all these dreams are yours as well. And the only distinction between me and you is that I can articulate them. And that is what poetry or painting or literature or film making is all about. It's as simple as that.
Werner Herzog
Burden of Dreams, Documentary Film, 1982


The Cubist ideas in painting necessitated more than the three dimensions, since these show only the visible aspects of a body at a given moment. Cubist painting...needed a dimension greater than the Third to express a synthesis of views and feelings toward the object. This is possible only in a 'poetic' dimension in which all the traditional dimensions are superseded.
Jean Metzinger
in an article in Pan, Paris, October-November, 1910.

---Today scientists no longer limit themselves to the three dimensions of Euclid. The painter have been led quite naturally, one might say by intuition, to preoccupy themselves with the new possibilities of spatial measurement which, in the language of modern studios, are designated by the term: the fourth dimension.
---Regarded from the plastic point of view, the fourth dimension appears to spring from the three known dimensions: it represents the immensity of space eternalizing itself in all directions at any given moment. It is space itself, the dimension of the infinite.
Guillaume Apollinaire
from the Cubist Painters, 1913

---Relativity teaches us the connection between the different descriptions of one and the same reality.
---Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity.
Albert Einstein

All true productivity realizes itself simultaneously upon an artistic and scientific basis. With the acceptance of the Theory of Relativity by Einstein, the fourth dimension has come into the realm of natural science. The first and second dimension include the world of appearance, the third holds reality within it, the fourth dimension is the realm of the spirit and imagination, of feeling and sensibility.
Hans Hofmann, 1930

To transform height, width, and depth into two dimensions is for me an experience full of magic in which I glimpse for a moment that fourth dimension which my whole being is seeking.
Max Beckmann

Exactitude is not the truth.
L'exactitude n'est pas la vérité.

Henri Matisse, 1947
...that fourth dimension which my whole being is seeking.
Max Beckmann

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