Artist Philip Hartigan talks about art, interviews other artists, and more
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On 10 huge personal influences on my art
Because it's always time to show a picture of Patty
Mrs. Brown: my Miss Jean Brody-ish high school art teacher, who told me it was time to stop drawing comic books and to start ‘expressing yourself through REAL drawing.’ She was right.
Barry Lewis: my high school friend, whom I met when we were 11 years old. We both applied for and got into Cambridge University at the same time, so our conversations and arguments about everything and anything started in pre-adolescence, continued through our teenage years, and went on through innumerable alcohol-fuelled all-night discussions at university.
Katayoun Dowlatshahi: one of my peers when I studied for my art MA in Barcelona. She was the real thing (and her post-MA career has borne this out): an extremely talented person who provided an example of how to become completely immersed in materials and ideas.
Richard Wentworth: celebrated conceptual artist who was one of the visiting tutors on my MA. He turned out to be extremely open-minded about art (I was a painter at the time) and very generous in his opinions.
Christian Boltanski: I only had one brief conversation with him, and it was only years later that I started to like his work. But I now count him as one of the keystones of my own current work.
Thomas Gosebruch: a German artist living in London with whom I studied printmaking. He had an old school teaching method, which meant 90% belittling criticism to 10% praise, but I learned so much about printmaking from him that I can’t even begin to summarise it all.
Stephen Westfall: New York-based abstract painter who I met at the Vermont Studio Center in 2000. We hit it off straight away, and ended up swapping guitar arrangements of Beatles songs while sitting on the steps of an old wooden church in Johnson, Vermont.
Carrie Iverson: a printmaker who I met while working at the Chicago Printmakers’ Collaborative, and with whom I had a two-person show in 2003. We sort of fell out after that, but I still acknowledge the benefit of working closely with someone of her talent and dedication.
Deborah Doering: artist and owner of the Finestra Art Space in Chicago’s Fine Arts Building. I’ve had two shows in her space, but it’s been equally beneficial to me in the last few years to discuss the state of art and the art world with someone of her rigorous conceptual frame of mind (something which I lack these days).
Patricia Ann McNair: finally, and most of all, this writer of short stories, and creative non-fiction, who happens also to be my wife of the past eight years. Being with Patty, and having her as my sounding board and first pair of eyes, has dramatically transformed the way I make art. She’s changed so many things for me: because of her, I’ve read more contemporary American literature than ever before; I’ve personally met many writers of all stripes (Hubert Selby, Richard Ford, Irvine Welsh, for example); I’ve seen what it is to teach students in a way that draws them out rather than tears them down or lectures at them; and in 2006, it was Patty who urged me to turn more towards the personal narrative as a subject of art, material that I am still working with today. If I think back ten years, to the time just before I met her, I’m amazed at how different I was, and how different the art I make would have been if hadn’t met her.
Linoleum as a material for printmaking has been used for nearly a hundred years now. Normally, you cut an image out using special gouges similar to woodcut tools, cutting away the lino around the image you want to print. This is called relief printmaking, because if you look at the block from the side, the material that remains stands up in relief from the backing material. You then roll ink with a brayer over the surface of the block, place paper over it, and either print by hand or run it through a press. You can do complex things this way (for example, reduction linocuts), but the beauty of the process is that it is quick, simple, and direct.
A few years ago, I saw some prints that were classified as coming from etched linoleum blocks, and I loved the textures I saw in them. In the last few months, I've been trying to use this technique in my own studio, learning about it as one does these days from websites and YouTube videos. I've also had email exchanges with several pr…
Artist Mary Ellen Croteau is showing these columns made from recycled plastic cartons and lids in the window of the Columbia College bookstore on Michigan Avenue. They are a playful homage to Brancusi's "Endless Columns", with a serious environmental message for our times:
Mary Ellen also runs a wonderful experimental art gallery in a window space in west Chicago, called Art on Armitage. I will be exhibiting a mixed media piece there during August 2012.
I first read Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel "The Sun Also Rises" when I was a teenager, and immediately fell in love with it. For the last couple of years, I have had the incredible privilege of teaching a class based around Hemingway in Paris -- while living and teaching in Paris itself, close to the Boulevard du Montparnasse, where most of the action of the novel's first half takes place.
Of the many things that one notices about the book, the colossal amount of drinking is something that stands out. These people didn't just drink like fish: they drank like whales, as if the ocean they swam in was alcohol and they had set themselves the task of drinking the seas of the world dry of it. During my read-through of the book before class started last year, I tried to underline every mention of drink in the book. And now, purely in the interests of science, I am listing the entire menu of booze mentioned directly by name. Some preliminary observations: Most of this is…