Over and over I have been asked to identify the artist who has influenced me most. I react different to two kind of Artist Influencers. There are artists whose splendid paintings I admire; Picasso comes to mind. There are artists who make splendid paintings, but I also admire their process, their methodology. This second category is more important to me, I have often referred to Matisse as a major influencer; of course the many discussions I had with my primary teacher and mentor, Philip Guston, will always influence my quest for truly satisfying process-methodology. Until yesterday! I have often looked at, often admired, the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988). Yesterday a friend of mine sent me a little book entitled, Basquiat-isms. This book is filled with splendid snippets of ideas, direct quotes from Basquiat. Here are three from that book; these make total sense to me:
"I am trying to communicate an idea; I was trying to paint a very urban landscape. I was trying to make paintings different from the paintings that I saw a lot of at the time, which were mostly minimal, and they were highbrow and alienating, and I wanted to make very direct paintings that most people would feel the emotion behind when they saw them."
"I feel if I work randomly, I come up with a more interesting narrative."
Asked, "Do you think you are lucky?" Basquiat responded, "Talented, too."
I began yesterday's drawing with as much randomness as I could muster. My intense self-educated skill took over; I worked as thoughtlessly as I could muster. Look what happened!
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