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.
It's my 300th blog post. And I seem to remember that in my 200th blog post I said that I would start quoting from John Ruskin's "Praeterita", after which this blog was named. Well, better late then never, so quotation number 2 is below.
First, though, some thoughts on this blog and blogging in general. I started Praeterita at the end of last year after reading a book by an art-marketing guru called Alyson Stansfield that recommended it as a means for artists to publicise their work better. But from the start I thought it would be more interesting to talk in a discursive way about my wider interest in art, and artists, and the history of art. After a desultory beginning where I only posted once a week, my blogging habit has now grown to the point where I am posting sometimes twice a day, and more than 45 times per month (helped enormously by the Blogger feature that lets you save blog posts with a post-dated timestamp, so that you can put posts in the bank to …
Most open studios are notable for nothing really happening. You sit there waiting for people to come into your studio, eat all your nibbles and guzzle the free drink, and then leave after a cursory glance at your work. Usually, the worst thing that happens is that you get stuck in a boring conversation with a dull person,
But there was one time a few years ago when I got into one of these conversations, and quite quickly the person I was talking to started to make homophobic remarks about another artist in the building. After a few minutes, I decided I'd had enough and asked him to leave. He seemed genuinely surprised that I had any objection to what he was saying, which in retrospect makes me even angrier if he thought he had a sympathetic ear.
He asked me why, and I told him I didn't like people talking that way, and I said: "This conversation ended 30 seconds ago." So he left.
So, nothing dramatic like Jackson Pollock getting drunk in a fancy New York apartment a…
From a letter dated July 31, 1888: “Why do you say Degas can’t get it up properly? Degas lives like some petty lawyer and doesn’t like women, knowing very well that if he did like them and bedded them frequently, he’d go to seed and be in no position to paint any longer. The very reason why Degas’s painting is virile and impersonal is that he has resigned himself to being nothing more than a petty lawyer with a horror of kicking over the traces. He observes human animals who are stronger than him screwing and f—ing away and he paints them so well for the very reason that he isn’t all that keen on it himself.” Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader