Lucian Freud: Some Thoughts on Painting

My object in painting pictures is to try and move the senses by giving an intensification of reality. 

Whether this can be achieved depends on how intensely the painter understands and feels for the person or object of his choice. 

Because of this, painting is the only art in which the intuitive qualities of the artist may be more valuable to him than actual knowledge or intelligence.

The painter makes real to others his innermost feelings about all that he cares for. A secret becomes known to everyone who views the picture through the intensity with which it was felt. 

The painter must give completely free rein to any feelings or sensations he may have and reject nothing to which he is naturally drawn. It is just this self-indulgence which acts for him as the discipline through which he discards what is inessential to him and so crystallises his tastes. 

A painter's tastes must grow out of what so obsesses him in life that he never has to ask himself what it is suitable for him to do in art.

Freud. "Some Thoughts on Painting," Encounter III, no. 1 (Julv 1954): 23-24.

Cyril Connolly

How many books did Renoir write on painting?

--The Unquiet Grave


Saul Leiter

Taxi (1956)

“In order to build a career and to be successful, one has to be determined. One has to be ambitious. I much prefer to drink coffee, listen to music and to paint when I feel like it.”



Amy Sillman: shut up and paint

As paintings do, they have sat mute, engulfed in the noise of the critical sparring. Unfortunately, the instigator of this noise was the artist herself -- apparently so intent on talking the talk and walking the walk that she loaded her show with retrograde baggage and tangential impulses -- apparently afraid to "simply" make paintings. Don't get me wrong, the large paintings in this show are impressive -- muscular, layered, searching -- great color, dynamic spacial contrasts -- if only they were allowed to be themselves, purely visual statements -- not ideas about painting. 



David Hockney

“I’ve been looking at this landscape here in East Yorkshire, Bridlington, and environs, for two years now rather closely, day in and day out, and I’ve never really done that before anywhere else,” he said. “And I realize that you keep seeing more and more, actually. Because you see with memory. Meaning, when I’m looking out over this vista—well, I was here last summer, in fact this is one of the first places I painted, but I hadn’t yet seen it in winter. But now I have, and this time I am watching the summer with the winter in mind. 
“I’m sure this winter I will see more as well, informed as my memories will have been by yet another summer. And then the same for next summer. In fact, it’s almost impossible to imagine truly painting landscape without staying put for a long while. Constable hardly ever left Suffolk, and just think of everything he saw!”




No place 300

Robert MacFarlane

"landscape is not something to be viewed and appraised from a distance, as if it were a panel in a frieze or a canvas in a frame. It is not the passive object of our gaze, but rather a volatile participant - a fellow subject which arches and bristles at us, bristles into us...it is dynamic and commotion causing, it sculpts and shapes us not only over the courses of our lives but also instant by instant, incident by incident."


Elizabeth Bowen

"It is those periods of existence which are lived through carelessly, unwillingly, or in boredom, that most often fructify into art."

Carl Sandburg

Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air.


Anne Sinclair: granddaughter of Paul Rosenberg

At the time, popular taste lagged behind the avant-garde. The opposite is true today. People jump on anything that looks like avant-garde art, out of fear that they'll be too late to the game.

Sinclair is the granddaughter of Paul Rosenberg (1881 to 1959), who earned a place in art history as a dealer, a talented collector and an art expert, the impresario of such outstanding painters as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque and Fernand L├ęger.



Thomas Struth: Paradise

Paradise 9

The jungle pictures ...  present a kind of empty space: emptied to elicit a moment of stillness and internal dialogue. 
Actually, I don’t even see the images as depictions of nature. The theme may play a major part, but the undertone makes the music. It’s about the experience of time as well as a certain humility in dealing with things. It’s a metaphor for life and death.
It’s very important to me to relate my own cultural work to the achievements of other cultures. I try to constantly be in between spaces and to feel life’s breath–the rhythm of inhaling and exhaling, as in tai chi. Every day, I could think of thirty pictures that would have a spectacular effect, but it’s not about big ideas. Instead I’m trying to effectively unite the conscious and the unconscious of life and the time I live in and thereby create authentic pictures.

ArtForum, May, 2002

Jasper Johns

"Painting has a nature which is not entirely translatable into verbal language. I think painting is a language, actually. It’s linguistic in a sense, but not in a verbal sense. I think that one wants from painting a sense of life. And I think that is true. One wants to be able to use all of one’s facilities in all aspects of one’s life… …You may have to choose how to respond and you may respond in a limited way, but you have been aware that you are alive. The final suggestion, the final statement, has to be not a deliberate statement but a helpless statement."

* Jasper Johns, source of his artist quotes on color paintings, art & life: an interview with Johns, conducted in 1975 at John’s studio, Yoshiaki Tono, as quoted in “Jasper Johns, Writings, sketchbook Notes, Interviews”, ed. Kirk Varnedoe, MoMA New York, 1996, p. 89.

Ellsworth Kelly

"For me, I just want to make works that mean something. And I don’t know where it comes from or what it means all the time. How can you know what abstraction means? So much abstraction that I see doesn’t have any meaning. It looks like design, a set-up. I want something that continues over time."



Cecilia Vissers

20 x 8.5 x 1.2 cm each part, anodised aluminum, 2012



And what is your aim as an artist?

The entire aim of my work is to elevate the human spirit. We can put the human spirit down so easily. Art reflecting society as it is today is not an answer because it’s already shitty, so why put more shit into it? You have to find a way to actually elevate the spirit so that it’s a kind of oxygen to society. To bring concepts and awareness, to ask the right questions. Not always the right answers, but that the right questions being asked.

Marina Abromovic



The Ritual Walk: Robert Macfarlane

Everywhere I went on these journeys, I encountered men and women for whom landscape and walking were vital to life. I met tramps, trespassers, dawdlers, mourners, stravaigers, explorers, cartographers, poets, sculptors, activists, botanists, and pilgrims of many kinds. I discovered that walking is still profoundly and widely alive in the world as a more-than-functional act. I met people who walked in search of beauty, in pursuit of grace or in flight from unhappiness, who followed songlines or ley-lines; I witnessed walking as non-compliance, walking as fierce star-song, walking as elegy or therapy, walking as reconnection or remembrance, and walking to sharpen the self or to forget it entirely.
Perhaps some version of this idea is why so many people seem to need the ritual walk now more than ever. In a context of the drastic privatisation of most aspects of culture, walking can offer freedoms that still escape capital's structures of credit and debt, service and obligation. The gifts offered by walking are, at their best, radical because unreciprocal. "They give me joy as I proceed," wrote John Clare simply, of field paths. Me too.
Robert Macfarlane

Practice: Jerry Seinfeld

“If I don’t do a set in two weeks, I feel it,” he said. “I read an article a few years ago that said when you practice a sport a lot, you literally become a broadband: the nerve pathway in your brain contains a lot more information. As soon as you stop practicing, the pathway begins shrinking back down. Reading that changed my life. I used to wonder, Why am I doing these sets, getting on a stage? Don’t I know how to do this already? The answer is no. You must keep doing it. The broadband starts to narrow the moment you stop.”

Jerry Seinfeld Intends to Die Standing Up By