This is an excerpt from Kurt Schwitters: Merz
Merz was Schwitters made up word for Dada. He was not invited to the first Dada fair in Berlin, he was looking for ” a totally unique hat fitting only a single head”-his own. In the section following he talks about the difference from photographic painting and painting from insight.
” I beg the reader’s pardon for having discussed photographic painting at such length. I had to do this in order to show that it is a labor of patience, that it can be learned, that it rests essentially on measurement and adjustment and provides no food for artistic creation. For me it was essential to learn adjustment, and I gradually learned that the adjustment of the elements in painting is the aim of art, not a means to an end, such as checking for accuracy. It was not a short road. In order to achieve insight, you must work. And your insight extends only for a small space, then mist covers the horizon. And it is only from that point that you can go on and achieve furthur insight. And I believe that there is no end. Here the academy can no longer help you. There is no means of checking your insight.” (Dada painters and poets pg. 58.)
The sky is bright, It’s 7:44 AM and I just heard Jack call for me. I don’t have much time to write. Yesterday Carl, Heather, Maria, and Myself met with the Dada curators at the site where the exhibition is to take place. I brought the babies too and Lindsay, I couldn’t help myself. I knew it would be cool in the space, it’s at Fort Mason in Cowell theater. Jack and Fiona ran around, up and down the ramps, back stage, looking out the windows onto the San Francisco bay. I wanted them to be with me at such an important meeting and they also got to see Carl, Heather, and Maria. We discussed the set up of the show, how and where we’ll hang things, I like having the work in the space first before making any hard decisions. The space is beautiful and our giant collaborative piece will be spectacular in there. When we got home I didn’t have much time to work, and I really wanted to work. I started painting right away. I’ve been working on camvas and wood panels lately in addition to paper. I’ve been allowing myself to struggle alot more, meaning instead of only working from spontanaity and stream of conciousness, stopping at a point That sings, I’ve been pushing on, making mud, trying to get out of bogs. I’ve been doing a lot of straight painting, I’ve also allowed the figure to reappear in my work. I am returning to original Jenny, which was from the same time I originally read Kurt Schwitters Merz. As I’m studying Dada again it’s opening hidden spaces inside myself, my individual self as an artist, as a person.
I think that is something the Dadaists held as a core value, not necessarily consciously collectively, but as individual people they were working from their own “insights”. Struggling in their own artistic practices. Not copying other artists, or trying to be similiar to other artists in the Dada movement. They were breaking molds of what art was at the time.
Yesterday as I was painting , I thought why paint? Who wants to see it? What benefit is it? I think it’s to look at, paintings are to look at and enjoy, hate, be inspired, whatever. But they are important.
But the most important thing is that the artist is executing something that comes from deep inside, insight, not copying, being true to themselves.
Asking myself everytime I pick up that paintbrush what do I really want to say?
Struggle to break through and find the picture that’s hiding, no matter how many I ruin.
I really have to go now! It’s 8:09 and my poor darlings are waiting for breakfast! Until next time.