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After Balthus

Post #1415 • November 9, 2009, 8:36 AM • 11 Comments

Study after Cat with a Mirror II (1987-1990) by Balthus, ink and white gouache on paper

The more art I make, the less the reasons for doing so are justifiable or even explicable, the less I can render the motivations into words. My body is engaged in a process that my mind has little to do with, except to chatter away in the background like a parrot present at a conversation between lovers. Balthus, here, has something I want. Drawing his painting from one of my books on him - I must have four of them by now - gave me a little dosage. I enjoy teaching, but I wish I could stay in the studio today and ride the inspiration. I would be a better artist but a worse person if I did so. Today the demands on the person call and the artist will forgive the person when he sees the room full of students, young and curious. But the painting in progress in the studio awaits like an unscratched itch.

Comment

1.

kg

November 9, 2009, 9:38 AM

It's a delicate balance between the introspective oft obsessive character necessary to create art and the need to reach out and relate to others whether teaching or the general experince of humanity. We cannot make art in a box, it becomes an empty act when done only for oneself.

2.

Pretty Lady

November 9, 2009, 11:26 AM

Sometimes I wonder if it's even possible for a balanced person to hit that hyperbolic curve that is necessary for great art. Then I think that the balanced life may provide the tempering which ultimately takes the art where it needs to go. It's a problem we all have to solve in our own way. What worked for Balthus has no bearing on what works for me.

3.

David

November 9, 2009, 8:54 PM

Frankly, sometimes it feels like two people in the same body, and the separation that's necessary (work for money/work for art) feels distinctly like a tearing, ripping action. Balance is to be admired but hard to achieve.

4.

piri

November 9, 2009, 9:09 PM

I don't know if teaching is the solution, but even the most creative among us needs to stay in touch with the rest of the human race.

5.

Jack

November 10, 2009, 3:22 PM

Counterpoint:

Harushige

And no, it's not Hiroshige.

6.

Jack

November 10, 2009, 5:36 PM

I meant that Harushige and Hiroshige were different artists.

7.

Jack

November 10, 2009, 5:44 PM

Oh, and when the image comes up, click on it to make it enlarge and sharpen up; it looks significantly better that way.

8.

that guy

November 10, 2009, 6:21 PM

Nice print Jack! Ironically, your new linking powers don't have the same effect on me as they do for people who read this site in a web browser. See your links once worked fine for me because I receive comments via email forwarding. So, your pre hot linked cut and past urls were once clickable in my inbox. Now they show up as text! Isn't technology wonderful.

9.

Jack

November 10, 2009, 6:34 PM

Harushige, by the way, was successful in his day (1760s-1770s) but is not considered a major figure like Harunobu, whose work he imitated.

10.

Chris Rywalt

November 10, 2009, 7:25 PM

Sounds like you need a new mail reader, TG.

11.

John S.

November 12, 2009, 12:41 PM

As you know there is a solution to this problem Franklin. It's pig headed determination. Fear always keeps us from complying all the way. Life is loud and wants to be heard. Bills especially! I've noticed that too much listening to that life (which always has compelling reasons to listen to it) makes me a timid artist. Going into the studio sometimes just doesn't make sense: there is no guarantee of anything in there! Life says get a job you are guaranteed a paycheck! But then do you have the energy for the studio? That has no guarantee of anything?

I say this is the only realm in which faith is the most appropriate. Nike has us on this one: Just Do It!

Does this make us bad people? It probably depends on what we consider to be good or bad as people. I always think, if life considers this to be bad then maybe I have to get a new life? This was my guiding thought over 12 years ago. It has gotten me through a lot of jams and thankfully you are keeping it fresh in my mind.

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