Michael St.Germain Artist

Add it up...

Here is the best description of "additive painting" I have ever read-

"Traditional ways of seeing pictures could roughly be fitted into two categories: the additive and the overall. The additive relates part to part in larger and larger units which eventually add up to the entire painting... Systems of checks and balances inflect each other until the "right" moment halts the process and freezes the picture. The general effect- the additive synthesis- then clarifies the picture, within which little pictures happily reside. Instructed by the parent picture, the eye is invited to make its own compositions within, finding pictures within pictures, details within details, before withdrawing to lock everything in again with the full glance at the parent picture."


O'Doherty, B. (1973). American Masters- the Voice and the Myth. New York, NY: Random House. p.198

Mind the gap...

"This book attempts to recognize and clarify a dialogue inseparable from modernism: that between an artist and his work on the one hand, and the audience on the other. There are large areas here for misunderstanding. The artist's intention does not always guide his work into its most worthwhile context. The work itself offers different complexions to contemporary- and succeeding- audiences."

O'Doherty, B. (1973). American Masters- the Voice and the Myth. New York, NY: Random House. p.6

Art and money...

"Nevertheless, the conflation of art, fashion, and money troubled me. This was not the art world I grew up in. I must admit that I enjoyed the partying, but in the back of my mind I kept asking myself, what were these chic, new rich collectors responding to in art, or rather, what were they using it for? Hip life-style? Status? Social climbing? Entertainment? Nostalgie de la boue? Titillation? Investment? Were they responding to what moved me? Was I impressed by their money? Was I bothered that, because of their money, more and more of them were invited to serve on boards of museums and other art institutions? Did they deserve their taste-making power in shaping the art-world consensus about what art was significant and of quality at any moment? Yes, I was bothered. The motives of the new collectors often did not serve the ends of art."

Sandler, I. (2003). A Sweeper -Up After Artists. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson. p. 300

Making room for aesthetics...

 "The history of modernism is intimately framed by... a white, ideal space... The ideal gallery subtracts from the artwork all cues that interfere with the fact that it is' art.' ...Some of the sanctity of the church, the formality of the coutrtroom, the mystique of the experimental laboratory joins with chic design to produce a unique chamber of aesthetics."

Brian O'Doherty, "Inside the White Cube: Notes on the Gallery Space, Part 1," Artforum, Mar. 1976, p. 24.



Criticizing criticism...

"I also faulted art theorists for drawing attention away from art to the discourse about it- and the murkiness of the language, which struck me as a kind of speaking in art-theoretical tongues. Their motive was to appear profound, but the upshot tended to be shoddy thinking and an insensitivity to language. It was all too common for the rhetoric... to have lost all reference to the art it purported to illuminate."

Sandler, I. (2003). A Sweeper -Up After Artists. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson. p. 319

Predicting art's future...

(Raymond) Parker then offered his definition of an academy. "It begins when a group comes to value an idea to the point where it seems so true that it is beyond argument. Insisting that they have the truth, its members become moralists and then preachers who try to sell the idea and then to impose it on the other artists. At this point, the academy becomes the target of its natural enemy-the next academy.

The impulse toward the academic is good in its beginnings because it originates in belief, conviction, and faith. It goes bad when it strangles individual freedom. The worst aspect of academies is that once ideas are formulated, inferior people with superior attitudes try to impose them on others. Mediocrities take over."

Sandler, I. (2003). A Sweeper -Up After Artists. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson. p. 232

Repetition as innovation?

Much as Ad's* painting was preplanned, he told me that he was freer than the abstract expressionists, who made a virtue of their freedom. "I'm free because I know exactly what I'm going to paint, and I'm going to paint it over and over." Ad went on:  "When you do the same thing over and over again, you can be spontaneous. I have a rigid formal process yet it is most spontaneous, more spontaneous than Pollock. De Kooning paints his ass off. I only paint when the spirit moves me. It's gentleman painting.

*Ad Reinhardt

Sandler, I. (2003). A Sweeper -Up After Artists. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson. p. 74

A perfect climate for creating art...

Irving Sandler:

"The fifties are viewed today as the decade of abstract expressionism, and they were. But, as I commented, they were also a time in which diverse artistic styles flourished-and crossfertilized each other as they competed for art world attention. New York school art ranged from realism to nonobjectivity, from purist art-as-art to expressionist life-as-art, from traditional painting and sculpture to iconoclastic environment and happenings. At once inspired and challenged by this rich stew of styles and ideas, ambitious artists could recognize what was fresh or stale in the art around them while realizing their own individual visions. New art could not have been created in any other milieu." 

Sandler, I. (2003). A Sweeper -Up After Artists. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson. p. 109