LeWitt excerpt, Rorschach butterflies

April 24, 2011

“Conceptual art is not necessarily logical.  The logic may be used to camouflage the real intent of the artist, to lull the viewer into the belief that he understands the work, or to infer a paradoxical situation (such as logic vs. illogic).  The ideas need not be complex.  Most ideas that are successful are ludicrously simple.  Successful ideas generally have the appearance of simplicity because they seem inevitable.  In terms of idea the artist is free even to surprise himself.  Ideas are discovered by intuition.”

–Sol LeWitt, “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art”

I keep having to remind myself of the end of this paragraph whenever I waver over whether my work is what you could call conceptual or not.  (I imagine this might not be something many artists worry about.)  In a long talk last week with an artist friend who knows my work well, he said that I’m an intuitive artist, and his suggestion was that there was a division between conceptual and intuitive and I was viewing my work in false terms.  I think my friend’s right in calling me intuitive, because even with all of the pre-planned work I’ve tried to execute over the last ten years the best and most interesting things have been things I’ve stumbled upon, and that’s fine, but it raises the question of conceptual as related to programmatic, something I haven’t yet worked out.

But I feel I little more resilient about the butterflies now; they’re generated by a system of simple steps, on and off the computer, and they proceed rationally from an initial irrational drawing.  They’re conceptual but the idea is so simple that it’s barely even there, and I’m used to a value system where the art idea is a lot more, for back of a better word, chewy.  Or at least complex.  More later.

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