“In the illusory babel of language, an artist might advance specifically to get lost, and to intoxicate himself in dizzying syntaxes, seeking odd intersections of meaning, strange corridors of history, unexpected echoes, unknown humors, or voids of knowledge..but this quest is risky, full of bottomless fictions and endless architectures and counter-architectures…and at the end, if there is an end, are perhaps only meaningless reverberations…
Here language ‘covers’ rather than ‘discovers’ its sites and situations. Here, language ‘closes’ rather than ‘discloses’ doors to utilitarian interpretations and explanations. The language of the artists and critics become paradigmatic reflections in a looking-glass babel that is fabricated according to Pascal’s remark, ‘Nature is an infinite sphere, whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.’ Language becomes an infinite museum, whose center is everywhere and whose limits are nowhere.
Language is built not written… Words for mental processes are all derived from physical things.”
-Robert Smithson from “A Museum of Language in the Vicinity of Art”
Winter by Bruce Herman
Quote from Bruce Herman: “the artist stands in relation to her art much as a parent does to her child: ‘I have not created you; you came through me, not just from me.’ But for this to happen, the artist must stand in a tradition that lends meaning to her work. Hence, the very uniqueness of the art is a dependent thing—dependent upon a past, even as it moves us into a future…our debt to tradition (whether conscious or not) ought to make us humble enough to acknowledge our debt to one another, as well, in the making and “using” of works of art. We are, all of us, both transmitters and recipients of the tradition as it lives in us, offering us, as we embody it, something authentically new. ”
You can find the complete essay here.
“It isn’t up to the painter to define the symbols. Otherwise it would be better if he wrote them out in so many words! The public who look at the picture must interpret the symbols as they understand them.” — Pablo Picasso.
There is a symbiotic relationship between artist and viewer with the viewer serving an instrumental role in the making of a work of art. Art made with no thought of its audience is, at best, selfish self-expression, and that is the kind of art a child could make. An artist has the fearful task of opening his work up to the interpretation of the public. They may get it wrong, they may understand it better than he does, regardless that interplay between creation and viewer is at the heart of art.