Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Against Artist Statements

Ken Price, L Red, 1963, Ceramic painted with lacquer and acrylic on wood base, 13 ½ x 12 x 10 in.

As far as I'm concerned, the explaining artist puts himself or herself in front of the work for the purpose of destroying the mystery of how it came into being. Borges said, "Rational explanation destroys the faith that art requires of us." That's for the viewers. For the artists, I think we need to have faith that the art experience can take place between the viewer and the work itself. [Ken Price, from "Ken Price: A Talk With Slides," Chinati Foundation Newsletter, October, 2005]

This quote was reprinted in the beautiful catalog, Ken Price, for the Ken Price retrospective at LACMA (coming soon to the Nasher Sculpture Center.



  1. "Rational explanation destroys the faith that a. art, or b.religion requires of us"? Don't be so sure this isn't one of Borges playful ironies.

    While I'm no great fan of artists' statements, in an era where crap regularly stands in for craft, where "mystery" is the flak jacket of lazy inscrutability, at least AS's serve as filters, bullshit or otherwise.

    As my acid reflux burbles up at the sight of bronze dream catchers so does it with Derridaean mumbo jumbo often linked to empty frames and junk-piled plinths. Such statements are valuable signposts for me to just keep moving along.

    I am glad to make room for the trance-casting Bacchanalians who wish to spontaneously create their performance/edgey fractals in the public crucible in search of art. But keep in mind with such low yield rates for that which is meaningful, the public--the underwriters--get seriously tested.
    --Gregory Bergman

  2. "Talk about painting: there's no point. By conveying a thing through the medium of language, you change it. You construct qualities that can be said, and you leave out the ones that can't be said but are always the most important."

    Gerhard Richter from 1964