The Walter Darby Bannard Archive

Quotes (2009)

Compiled from the archive, online, and other sources by Robert Genn.

When realistic images or patterns are seen in an abstract painting, they are often parallels brought about by processes in painting which echo processes in nature.

Don't apologize, justify or rationalize bad art or bad writing. If you do, you are part of it.

Art is making something better without knowing what better is until you make it.

You don't have to be a cave man to appreciate Lascaux.

Art is not "about." Art is.

Whether something is called art is beside the point. What counts is what happens when you ask it to actually be art.

There are too many artists, too many dealers and too much art.

Start a painting with fresh ideas, and then let the painting replace your ideas with its ideas.

One needs to be right before getting righteous.

Part of history is facts. The other part is what we find easier to believe.

Art makes you reinvent the wheel with regularity. If you don't, art gets bored and slips away.

Too much freedom inhibits choice. Constructive narrowness clarifies choice.

Good art, no matter how simple or casual-seeming, always carries a high density of choice.

Very few people ever understand art. If you are lucky, they will buy it for the wrong reasons.

Good art has everything you need to know about it in the work, not on a wall label. Art is here to take us beyond language.

Assumptions are usually presumptuous but often correct.

Most art is just surface noise.

Of course I will look at anything, but I have not got the time or the patience to keep on looking at art that I know could be better. I don't want art that needs fixing, I want art that sends me back to the studio to fix my own.

A critic without a good eye is a eunuch in a harem.

No high-minded painter of the last fifty years has been able to come to terms with his art without coming to terms with the problem of cubism.

The art consensus is not criteria, it is convenience.

When anyone can produce dreck or publish gibberish, and not only get away with it but be celebrated for it, the discipline is no longer a discipline, and it will get no respect.

Limitation of means is a precondition of excellence. Creative freedom chooses its limitations. Destructive freedom rejects them heedlessly.

We must turn away from work that replaces experience and pleasure with explanation.

Asking art to express ideas is like asking a Sumo wrestler to play charades.

When imitation goes over big, it isn't imitation, it is a trend.

Complete freedom debilitates art but reveals much about character.

The more freedom artists have to do what they want to do, the more they do what other artists are doing.

Great art does not break with the past. It breaks with the present by emulating the best of the past.

Nothing is as hopeless as trying to justify art in words.

Big minds have big ideas. Small minds use big ideas to justify bad ideas.

When good ideas get put to bad use, it is the fault of the user, not the idea.

Experience is real. Painting, which comes out of experience, is real. The world is an illusion.

Convention and restriction release inhibition and provoke the imagination.

When inspiration dies, imitation thrives.

Don't explain, enjoy.

Live to paint, don't paint to live.

Sometimes Cezanne painted things the way they look when you are looking at something else.

To an art historian a Giotto is a 14th Century painting. To an artist it was painted yesterday. We free ourselves from the past when we see it freshly.

When anything can be art, art is not much of anything.

"Craft" gets a bad rap. Mediocre art is not caused by craft; It is caused by artists. Good art employs whatever craft works best.

When you have made a good painting, don't do another like it, but remember the process, what you did, what you were thinking and feeling.

There is no best way to make art, but there are a lot of better ways.

In art, as in life, the best way to remedy mistakes is to take advantage of them.

Purplish brown? Let's agree it
is a color so bad we all flee it
it has no good use
so let's name it Puce
from the sound we make when we see it.

Postmodernism is silly and joyless at the same time.

Postmodernism is Modernism with Alzheimer's.

Postmodernism lives in the academy, where words abandon reality to serve ambition, and reputations rise on hot air.

When you make the obvious mysterious, then the mysterious becomes unavailable.

Originality is way overrated. To make, you need to take. All great artists do.

Many years ago, Clement Greenberg said, "All profoundly original work looks ugly at first." This should be updated now to "All profoundly ugly work looks original at first."

Trying to be original is futile. If you have no place to go, stay home and cook.

When you are painting a landscape, assume the painting is real and the landscape is an illusion.

When making a painting, only one thing counts: what you do next.

If you learn something too well, it will get in the way of your perception of reality.

Always let intuitive perception precede analysis.

Don't plan, prepare.

Art rides in on pleasure.

The power of art is not in communication but effect; what it does, not what it relates.

Power is like money. Some know how to get it; few know how to use it.

Art may be for the privileged few but they have earned the privilege and deny it to no one.

Art is too popular. If plumbing was as popular as art is we would have amateur plumbers running around brandishing wrenches and Roto-Rooters, climbing in and out of sewers and writing gibberish about pipe systems. And none of our toilets would work.

A clear idea about the nature of quality in art will always result in inferior art tailored to it.

What is sublime?
the artist said.
I haven't time
to be well read.
To be sub lime
I'll place, instead,
green citrus fruit
upon my head.

It matters little if something is "craft" or "art." The question is only this: does it give me pleasure?

Art is not truth. Truth conforms to reality. Art invents reality.

Science is a matter of adjusting language to explain material reality. Art is a matter of adjusting material reality to create a sense of life.

There is no regional art. The only region left is the art magazine.

There's a big difference between grabbing attention and rewarding attention.

Dogmatism spreads its roots in the fertile soil of uncertainty.

Good art looks new because the artist has recombined something old to make something better.

The first duty of intelligence is to recognize the obvious.

When you "break all the barriers" you get a pile of rubble.

Anything is OK in art if the art turns out OK.

Art is there for nourishment, not explication.

Without the eye, the head is blind. Without the head, the eye is adrift.

If we see an object as a "bowl," it may inhibit seeing it as "craft," just as seeing it as "craft" might inhibit seeing it as "art." See first; name later.

Art that wants to be felt does not have the need to be admired.

An ivory tower is a fine place as long as the door is open.

When anything goes, everything goes.

In art there is no absolute good or bad, but it is absolute that there is good and bad.

The struggle to be original hates conformity, but the struggle to be better disregards it, or takes advantage of it to build workable conventions.

Good new art may not look like art. Inspiration doesn't follow style, it creates it.

If art depended on content, then one painting of an apple would be as good as the next one.

Talent is like a seed which needs fertile soil. There is no less talent now, there is less fertile soil to nourish it.

Art is like a butterfly fluttering in a meadow. Analysis of art is like a butterfly on a pin. Each has its value, but we must always be aware of the difference, and what is gained or lost.

Art flows more easily when you are not thinking about what "should" be in it or how it "should" be done. The Impressionists taught us to look and see, not assume.

Most "profound truths" are just timely ideas.

"Stale artifacts of the past" are always "active components of the present moment" when they are experienced in the present moment.

We learn to lie by believing words rather than experience.

Most people find facts irritating. Facts interfere with their systems of denial.

Truth is not always hard to find; it is often staring you in the face. The problem with truth is that it is hard to believe. It is even harder to get other people to believe.

Postmodernism does not help us understand good art. It encourages art that can be easily understood and throws in something catchy to cover the loss of mystery.

Making art is like swimming underwater in a blindfold.

Don't burden art with words and ideas. Art comes from a deeper place.

"Conceptual art" is an oxymoron. Concepts are articulations of fact or supposition, not attributes of quality.

Postmodernism does not facilitate better art. It rationalizes inferior art by wrapping it in words - a suit of armor with nobody inside.

If you can read it and it doesn't make sense, you are not stupid - it is.

When you write something new about science, other scientists may not like it but they pay attention because it is subject to proof. When you write something new about art, it is subject only to the reader's discomfort, and will probably be rejected.

Writing about art is only useful when it leads to the experience of art.