April 29, 2004

Whatever you want from me, whatever you want I'll do

From the essay "How to Proceed in the Arts," written in 1952 by Larry Rivers and Frank O'Hara, but not published until Barney Russet did so in the Evergreen Review in 1961:

A Detailed Study of the Creative Act

1. Empty yourself of everything.

2. Think of far away things.

3. It is 12:00. Pick up the adult and throw it out of bed. Work should be done at your leisure, you know, only when there is nothing else to do. If anyone is in bed, with you, they should be told to leave. You cannot work with someone there.

4. If you are the type of person that thinks in words -- Paint!!

5. Think of a big color -- who cares if people call you Rothko. Release your childhood. Release it.

6. Do you hear them say painting is action? We say painting is the timid appraisal of yourself by lions.
...
10. Don't just paint. Be an all around successful man like Baudelaire.

11. Remember to despise your teachers, or for that matter anyone who tells you anything straight from the shoulder. This is very important.

For instance, by now you should have decided we are a complete waste of time. Easterners, Communists, and Jews. This will help you with your life, and we say "life before art." All other positions have drowned in the boring swamp of dedication. No one paints because they choose to.
...
15. In attempting a black painting, know that truth is beauty, but shit is shit.

16. In attempting a figure painting, consider that no amount of distortion will make a painting seem more relaxed. Others must be convinced before we even recognize ourselves. At the beginning, idenitity is a dream. At the end, it is a nightmare.
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19. When involved with abstractions, refrain, as much as possible, from personal symbolism, unless your point is gossip....everyone knows size counts.

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