The artist is the origin of the work. The work is the origin of the artist. Neither is without the other. Nevertheless, neither is the sole support of the other. In themselves and in their interrelations artist and work are each of them by virtue of a third thing which is prior to both, namely that which also gives artist and work of art their names—art.
Martin Heidegger, “The Origin of the Work of Art”
For three delicious evenings in a row, I was privileged to sit outside of La Madeleine’s Cafe in north Arlington, relishing the soothing autumn temperatures. Drawing has become a relaxing past time for me, a quality time for unwinding after grueling classes each day. In addition to my pencil sketches, I am loving this essay from Heidegger, which I have already read several times. I am also reading Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy. The latter I have known about since the 1980’s, have read many critical reviews and abstracts of it, but never actually read the book itself. I started it several days ago and am enjoying it to the max. Heidegger and Nietzsche wax eloquent when they write of aesthetics, and frankly, that is a subject that has always left me tongue-tied. I know art theory in an intuitive sense, and understand the critical vocabulary that critics love so much. But when it comes time for me to express it verbally, I am quite flummoxed.
I am saddened that my high school art teacher, Robie Scucchi passed away years ago, without my ever getting back to him to tell him how important those years have become when he patiently instructed me. He was a master at abstract painting, and certainly understood the aesthetic principles undergirding that type of art. When I was in tenth grade, he forced me into abstract painting, and I resisted harshly. When I finally came around, I could not learn fast enough, and next thing I knew, he had moved on to Mississippi State College. We only spoke twice after he left, and now I regret deeply that I cannot talk with him and thank him for what he instilled in me. Last night, as I sat scribbling out the tree posted above, I employed many abstract principles into the design, weaving them into the drawing, and thinking of the master who taught me.
It saddens me further that the other student whom I knew since age 5 also wrestled with Mr. Scucchi over these principles, and also came around. He and I were able to hold many subsequent conversations about abstraction, though both of us turned to making representational art throughout our lives. But he too, has passed away, and I no longer have his conversation to engage. I am fortunate still to have breath and strength within me to keep pushing this envelope, but at the same time, I really miss those two artistic comrades.
Thanks for reading.
I make art in order to understand.
I journal when I feel alone.
I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.