The intention to write a text may be born from various motivations. For visual artists, the verbal language is not the first medium of expression. Consequently, the artists writing can be situated as a space between ideas and creation.
The compiled material of words is where the intention of creation leaves traces, where the creation process is being analyzed. It is a collection of everyday thoughts, an imprint of an operating thinking. It is a place for general wonderings on Art or intimate dialogue.
Therefore, writings can take different forms: essays, personal thoughts, poems, diaries, manifestos, articles, thesis…
This bibliography doesn’t pretend to be comprehensive. It aims to consider some interesting examples regarding the wide range of forms and contents of artists’ writings.
CAGE, John, X, writings ’72-’89, Wesleyan University Press, 1983.
Using mesostics, John Cage tries in this book to “find a way of writing which comes from ideas, is not about them, but which produces them”.
KAPROW, Allan, Essays on the blurring of art and life, University of California press Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1993.
Allan Kaprow can be seen as a theorist. This collection of essays written over four decades analyses and criticizes Art and its conception as an ideology, but also considers it inside society and humanity.
LEWITT, Sol, Paragraphs on conceptual art, Artforum, June 1967.
“These paragraphs are not intended as categorical imperatives, but the ideas stated are as close as possible to my thinking at this time. These ideas are the result of my work as an artist and are subject to change as my experience changes.” (Sol Lewitt)
PENONE, Giuseppe, Respirer l’ombre, Paris, ENSBA, coll. Ecrits d’artistes, 2009.
“Respirer l’ombre” is a precise diary of a dialogue between artist and nature, through gestures. This collection of thoughts must be read in the light of his artworks.
WALL, Jeff, Selected essays and interviews, MOMA, 2007.
Jeff wall was a prolific writer. His art historical training background is clearly present in his work and writings. Dealing with a variety of subjects, this collection of critical essays and interviews is an important guide to his universe.
NONAS, Richard, Get out/stay away/come back, A propos de la sculpture et de la sculpture en œuvre, Dijon, Presses du Réel (bilingual), 1995.
This book can be seen as a work of art. According to Richard Nonas, “This book is a drawing. It is a drawing of what sculpture and its making are. It is a drawing of what sculpture can do, what it is for, what its power and limits should be. It is a drawing of the gap between ideas, and the things we make because of them. It is a drawing of the gap between a world and our views of it. It is a drawing of crossings attempted; spans holding and collapsing. It is a drawing of that repetitive process.”
BEUYS, Joseph, What is art? Conversations with Joseph Beuys, Clairview books, 2004.
This conversation is the out come of a one-day-event which took place in 1966. It started with a short introduction by Beuys himself, titled “What is art?” Then, enhanced by questions and contributions of the participants, this dialogue is developed around central themes and concerns which appears in Beuys’s works of art.
LE CORBUSIER, Talks with students, Princeton Architectural Press, 1999.
In this book, Le Corbusier speaks to students as an experienced architect. Through a mutual inspiring exchange, they broach the future of architecture and the profession. “Talks to students” is also the opportunity for Le Corbusier to expose his theory concerning architecture and urbanism in general.
TARKOVSKY, Andrei, Sculpting in time, University of Texas Press, 1989.
“Sculpting in time” is not just about Tarkovsky’s filmmaking method. In this book, subjects like visual creativity, art in general, stand alongside biography anecdotes or interrogations on the specificity of cinema.
BRESSON, Robert, Notes on the cinematographer, Green Integer, 1997.
“Notes on the cinematographer” is a collection of fragmentary phrases, maxims, quotations, questions and aphorisms written by the French film maker between 1950 and 1974. Strong ideas are, here, shortly formulated. All the notes are related to cinematographer and more particularly to the creation work of Bresson itself.
KANDINSKY, Wassily, Concerning the spiritual in art, Dover publication inc., Coll. Dover books on art history, 1977.
Kandinsky’s theory of painting strongly influenced the development of modern art. The “spiritual revolution in painting” reconsidered the artist’ creation process, his responsibility, but also discusses psychology and language of colors and forms.