Friday, March 18, 2011

Lecture Notes: Peter Doig

A few years ago (really? already?) when I worked in museum education, I spent several mornings a week for a few months plopping kids down in front of this painting. It's Peter Doig's 100 Years Ago, and it was great for getting students' powers of observation, imagination, storytelling, and interpretation going.

I was excited to learn that Peter Doig was giving this spring's Duncan Phillips Lecture at the Phillips Collection. So, last night I ponied up $20 to go to the talk. Throughout the evening, I was impressed with Doig's easy going manner and no-pretense way of talking about his works and studio practices. Here are some notes I jotted down when I got home.

-Work should surprise you, you should do something in your work to catch yourself off guard, do something that you wouldn't do.

-Think about what is outside the painting, not just the little self contained world inside the frame.

-You need time to come to terms with a work (example he gave of this is 100 Years Ago, which sat around in his studio for 6 months without being worked on much before he decided it was complete).

-Memories attach to paintings based on what else is going on in an artist's life.

-A subject worth painting once is usually worth revisiting several times, otherwise you cheat yourself. There aren't that many subjects worth painting.

-You make art about things that you can't explain or talk about (so he didn't really, except to tell us about the experience of making a work or the experiences that lead up to it, visual experiences mostly).

-You can't teach art making.

(image taken from blog Contemporary Art Seminar; painting is in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, but they don't have an image available on their website.)

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