This is such a well done snapshot of an artist. Julian Schnabel has captured my idea of a perfect studio space - open air and tropical with plenty of room to experiment. Favorite quote, "And maybe poetry was something that [God] left out and he left that for humans to do." If you are lacking inspiration and feeling bogged down, this video will kick the rust off.
Andy Warhol is not remembered as a sensitive artist. I believe that he made a conscious decision to hide behind an armor of apathy. Reading his quotes, Warhol makes it sound like he craps out easy art for the selfish purpose of fame, fortune, and notoriety. But if you imagine the wigs, glasses, omnipresent cameras, and aloof wonderment as a protective tortoise shell for a gentle soul, Andy Warhol becomes something entirely different. Warhol was a master printer and even taught Robert Rauschenberg how to screenprint but he acted like he was a detached Henry Ford type figure, only interested in cranking out flat, vapid duplicates. If you see his work in a book, you might think it is a) plagiarism and b) just the same thing over and over.
Upon closer inspection, repetition is where Andy's brilliance shone brightest - he would take a well known image, make it his own, and then iterate - making experimental alterations every single time. One of my favorite bodies of work is his Death and Disaster series - it included race riots, car accidents, and electric chairs. It reflects a society more fixated on violent imagery and salacious headlines than human mortality - and the work only becomes more interesting with the modern 24 hour news cycle and the internet. The variation of the prints also plays with the distorting power of perception and interpretation.
Finally, to highlight Warhol's masterful precognitive abilities, take a few moments to closely investigate the details of this screenprint of O.J. Simpson from 1977.
A great deal of my paintings are based on Cartes de Visite (CdV) from the 19th Century - the easiest way of thinking of these is Victorian trading cards, thin photographs mounted on something akin to illustration or mat board. CdVs were handed out like business cards and served as an early incarnation of social media. There were sometimes adornments like calligraphed signatures, foil stamps, or gold edges. The subjects look stoic and expertly coifed - a contrast to the current overabundance of casually snapped smartphone selfies. I roam around online until I locate a CdV that grabs my attention and then do some work in Photoshop, preparing the image for projection, pencil drawing transfer, and then painting. Here's a quick glimpse at the Photoshop manipulation. The changes are subtle but I am always focused on eliminating unnecessary details without losing anything that anchors the portrait or skews it too far into abstraction.
I enjoy stories that start late and end early. They give you the sense that you've walked into someone's life and you could be jettisoned at any moment. Stories like that leave a lot to your imagination - they aren't defining every tiny detail of someone's backstory - you don't know where they got that limp or scar or bag of money, it's just there. The author of these works has decided to introduce a counterpart to his artistic process - the reader. People bring their own baggage and assumptions - personal perceptions create a funhouse mirror effect. Think of the suitcase in Pulp Fiction or Norman Bates's mother or what happened when the police arrived on the scene at the end of American Beauty. My favorite example is the finale of The Sopranos - David Chase layered Godfather allusions with cinematic music and the tension of Meadow arriving late and trying to get parked - then the screen went pitch black. There is power in not knowing all of the answers.
In a lot of ways, music influences my artwork more than anything visual. When I turn on these songs, in speakers or headphones, my brain clicks into place and I'm transported into the zone - flow state is immediate. And there is music I love that doesn't do the trick - Charles Mingus, the Pixies, Nirvana, Kanye West, or Springsteen. The tempo and mood have to be just so and then the painting gods smile upon me. These are the albums I return to over and over and over, year after year. There have been recent additions to the rotation (like Karen Elson, Steely Dan, Amy Winehouse, and Jason Isbell) but these are my trusty old reliable stand-bys.
Metamodern Sounds in Country Music - Sturgill Simpson
I first listened to this on vacation in Key West and it lit my brain on fire - Waylon Jennings collides with Radiohead. I spent my childhood years in Texas and there is something about hearing a deep twangy voice paired with a Telecaster that takes me back to the rodeo and state fair. Throw in some metaphysical philosophizing and you've got something special.
“That old man upstairs, though he wears a crooked smile. Staring down on the chaos he created. He said son if you ain't having fun then just wait a little while. Momma's gonna wash it all away. She thinks mercy's overrated”
Also recommended - his performance on Austin City Limits (available on YouTube), specifically Listening to the Rain and I’d Have to be Crazy
Time (The Revelator) - Gillian Welch
Pure nostalgia - Gillian seems plucked from a Coal Miner's Daughter alternate reality. Elvis Presley Blues is worth the cost of the album - "He was all alone, in a long decline. Thinking how happy John Henry was that he fell down and died."
Also recommended - Tear My Stillhouse Down, Caleb Meyer, Orphan Girl, Hard Times
Blacklisted - Neko Case
The iTunes description is tough to beat, so I'll just quote it here, “Part Patsy Cline, part David Lynch, Blacklisted is a tense, torchy masterpiece for which the label “alt-country” seems pitifully inadequate."
Also recommended - In California (Live) on Austin City Limits - my favorite song of hers.
Greatest Hits - The Band
Holy shit. If I could paint something that felt like “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” or “The Weight” I would just call it a day and retire forever. There is a reason these guys are cited by so many musicians as a source of inspiration. David Chang has a portrait of them in his restaurant Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York City. Martin Scorsese directed a documentary about their final concert. They were Bob Dylan’s band. And Robbie Robertson’s biography just makes me love them more. Music as method acting.
Acid Tongue - Jenny Lewis
“I went to a cobbler to fix a hole in my shoe. He took one look at my face and said I can fix that hole in you. I beg your pardon I’m not looking for a cure. I’ve seen enough of my friends in the depths of the God sick blues.”
Also recommended - Rabbit Fur Coat with The Watson Twins and anything from her band Rilo Kiley.