My Quest for Innovation
An artist is considered important to our historical record of the arts if they created something unique and a first in some form. The more innovative their work the larger the footnote in art history. Prior to Modernism, the artists who rose in fame and recognition were those that were the highest skilled in their day. When Modernism exploded in the early 1900s, the key to success and recognition was through “innovation.” When Leo Castelli was asked why he had been able to discover artists of importance before anyone else, his reply was, “knowing what is new and innovative is simply a matter of knowing art history.” This being a fact tells us that the students of today must have a strong background in the history of painting. If you do not know what past artists have done and how they did it, how can you plot an avenue of discovery, hopefully leading one to a contribution to the historical record?
As the son of a great modernist designer and architect, my father taught me from my youngest years that innovation was the key to success, both intellectually and professionally. The problem I faced was that everyone in the industry thought there were no more possibilities for innovation in painting because everything from classical painting to throwing paint on the canvas had been done. Motherwell said, “Future artists will never have an art of their own and will only be able to make great refinements on past styles.” This sentiment is a tough one for my generation to face and almost caused me to go into industrial sculpture as a profession. Of course being stubborn and determined as many crazy artists are, if there was any area of study that would hold the possibility of finding a new avenue to explore, I was going to find it.
“Quest for Innovation”. It is my most advanced intellectual work in Matricism to date. It was an attempt to tell my story, to make a statement about my life’s quest for an art of my own. The idea was to give this stuff we call “knowledge” a visual substance that you could see. I wanted to make the statement that all of us have one primary occupation in our lives. From the savage to the scientist, all of us start learning the day we arrive in this world. We learn what we need and desire in order to get through life. Hopefully we create new knowledge from what we learn for the next generation to discover. My idea in this painting is to represent the cycle of knowledge where the student enters the learning process, then once educated they use their collected knowledge to create their contribution to the collected knowledge of man.
A constant in symbolism is that light can convey the idea of enlightenment and knowledge. Ever look inside a furnace or boiler and see how bright the fires are? I required several elements of design for the symbolism of the struggle of learning. You see the face of a man coming out of an opening with a light in his hands. He is crawling out of a vent. If you have ever crawled through such a tight space, you would recall this to be quite a struggle. As a student, he had to crawl into those vents to reach the light within. It is a place such as a boiler where all the light and heat of knowledge is collected. We as students must crawl into those vents to reach the light where we learn what we need from all that man has deposited there. Once the learning is completed, our next challenge is to use that knowledge we gathered to make our own contributions to the world of knowledge and invention. This is what the individual with the light is giving us, his new contribution. For a writer it is a new book, for an engineer a new type of motor, for a doctor it may be a life-saving medical cure. In my own case it was the development of Matricism.