Le Witt Chapter 4

From Paradise

Jump to: navigation, search

S.R.: I have one more question which is coming a little bit back to your practice and I wonder – it's a personal interest also – I wonder how you consider your ideal, typical, daily work as an artist.

S.L.: I always think of what I'm doing is the next thing, and I only can look forward to just the next thing and not the thing after that. So when I have a... I go to the studio or I have a project that I have to think about, I always think about what the next step would be. One thing I have to say is that at one point I thought that the ideological structure was to me inhibiting and I wanted to eradicate all references to ideology. It was very strong in the 60s; everyone had a manifesto, an ideology, everyone thought that you had to be tough, and you had to have tough ideas and you had to have... you know you had to stick to your ideas and I said to myself, you know, this is very fine except when it reaches the point where it inhibits... it becomes an inhibition rather than an impetus. And then I said I wouldn't be interested in ideology, I was more interested in just making art. Whatever happened happened, if it was a dead end then I'll try another way or if it was bad art I would do something maybe better. But I wouldn't try to censor myself by saying 'oh well, I couldn't do this because of a certain kind of an ideological straightjacket. And then I said to myself that the thing I wanted to do was, whatever the next thing that came from the last thing. So they had an organic development. One to the next to the next to the next. And you could never go from... you had to go from A to B to C; you couldn't go from A to M to Z; you had not structure that way. You had to have a both intellectual and aesthetic structure. I tried to be... take as my ideology to be anti-ideological.

S.R.: Yes, that is exactly what I was wondering because I think that many people in the art world think that a strategy of simplicity like you developed it could be something like an ideology because it is putting out all the world all the things it is just concentrated on a serial progression.

S.L : Yeah... whatever way it happens, it happens, and of course it has to happen through some sort of idea, and ideas become ideology. When ideas are in the world they are rather free and formless, but once they achieve a form they become an ideology, and once they are an ideology they become an inhibition as well.

S.R.: Do you think that it is maybe – it is just an idea – that this is a kind of an American thinking...?

S.L.: I think that when you think back to the origins of Conceptual art, it was happening in Europe as well. For instance Hanne Darboven was already doing highly conceptual work, Jan Dibbets... or Daniel Buren. There were a whole group of artists in Europe. And as a matter of fact also the group of artists that coalesced around Konrad Fischer in the late 60s, and they still remain just as important as the Americans. We all, you know, became much more of an international group with the kind of thinking that went on.

S.R. : How do you consider the role of for instance Konrad Fischer as the European gallerist. How was the feedback between, let's say Seth Sieglaub or Dan Graham, in the beginning as a young gallerist and European gallerists?

S.L. Dan Graham was extremely important, he had some really interesting ideas, and some of his early work was extremely important to me, too. And I think that Seth had the idea of – as the catalogue that we were looking at showed – that he didn't want to have a gallery and could do work in a catalogue. One of the ideas was to get rid of the commercial and the gallery and the whole art world structure that was involved in commerce; art should be free of that sort of thing. That idea was part of the 60s revolution; there was a lot of different aspects to it all over the world; 68 was a big turning point in western history, you know with the... and here especially with the Civil Rights movement and all other kinds of more or less revolutionary thinking. It happened both places rather simultaneously sometimes without knowledge. I think that NY still has this kind of provincialism that things... if it's not from NY it doesn't exist – although much less so now than it was in the 60s. When I went and Carl André went to have shows with Konrad Fischer people thought it was going into a dead end or a back stream or that it was not consequential; anything that didn't happen in NY was not consequential. It was more or less a reawakening throughout the world – of western art at least, that was international.

S.R.: And for example Konrad Fischer who called himself... whose name was Konrad Lueg who started as a painter and who did installations and everything. How do you see his role in this connecting between the continents?

S.L.: I dont know. I think he could have been a very successful artist if he continued. I think he was right along with any of the important German artists of that time, but that made him see what was going on in NY as well. And I guess that he decided that he'd rather do his gallery; or he wanted to do both perhaps at one time but then the gallery became important. As a matter of fact they are doing a show from our collection in Hartford and Konrad Lueg is one of the artists in the show, so his work continues. I think it can stand up very well. But he understood... he did, I think, a show in – was it Frankfurt or Hamburg – before he had a gallery in Düsseldorf – called 'serial art show' something of that sort... So he was really clued into what was going on.

S.R.: How do you see this relation in the contemporary field between NY and Central Europe? Do you think it is still a kind of competition or how do you see it?

S.L.: Well I think that... I, you know, I spend a lot of time in Italy and I became very friendly with a lot of Italian artists of my generation Mario Merz, Kounellis, Paolini, Penone, and those, and they have very little success in the US where German artists... if you think of Richter, Baselitz... many of them have a tremendous success here, and I think that it's a little bit out of bounds. But I think that one of the great influences comes from the Bechers... all the photography that's being done today the Gurskys, and all these other photographic artists all come from him and they come from Sander and they are a tremendous influence throughout the world. So in a way... - Although I think that a lot of Italian artists are overlooked here and I think that maybe German artists are too important... - more important than they really should be, but I think it's much more international. Now you even have Asian artists being shown a lot. So I think it's good sign.

« Sol LeWitt »