Unreal Nature

July 25, 2016

To Draw a Line Is to Have an Idea

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:40 am

… philosophy and science are descriptive disciplines whereas art and religion are not.

This is from a 1976 interview with Liza Béar titled ‘Sight Point ’71-’75/Delineator ’74-’76’ [1970] in Richard Serra: Writings Interviews (1994):

[ … ]

Liza Béar: Okay … What does making sculpture mean to you right now?

Richard Serra: [long pause] I guess it means a lifetime involvement, that’s what it means. It means to follow the direction of the work I opened up early on for myself and try to make the most abstract moves within that … To work out of my own work, and to build whatever’s necessary so that the work remains open and vital and challenging to myself, and hopefully to others who’re interested in the direction that I’m working in.

[ … ]

RS: … one of the things that you get into as you become more in tune with articulating space is that space systems are different than linguistic systems in that they’re nondescriptive. The conclusion I’ve come to is that philosophy and science are descriptive disciplines whereas art and religion are not.

LB: Well, they’re experiential, aren’t they?

RS: Yes. What happens with Delineator is that the only way to understand this work is to experience the place physically, and you can’t have an experience of space outside of the place and space that you’re in. Any linguistic mapping or reconstruction by analogy, or any verbalization or interpretation or explanation, even of this kind, is a linguistic debasement, in a sense, because it isn’t even true in a parallel way.

The following is from a 1977 interview with Lizzie Borden titled ‘About Drawing: An Interview’:

Richard Serra: Drawing is a way of seeing into your own nature. Nothing more. There are certain formal processes that one learns — learned methods that end up being a hindrance. There is no way to make a drawing — there is only drawing.

Lizzie Borden: Don’t all disciplines require some formal language?

RS: Yes, but if formal hand-me-downs, methodological preoccupations become the content of one’s investigation, then the work ends up being a reformulation of formalist strategies. If the art is so tightly bound to and contingent upon a historical referential tradition, it will be severely limited and susceptible to obvious formal analyses. Drawings which do not accept a static definition, which do not give over easily to analyses or categorizations, drawings which negate traditional definitions, exist outside of formalist values even though they remain self-referential.

[ … ]

RS: … Drawing creates its own ordering. To draw a line is to have an idea. More than one line is usually construction. Ideas become compounded as soon as you make the second line. Drawing is a way for me to carry on an interior monologue with the making as I’m making it.

[ … ]

RS: What I continually find to be true is that the concentration I apply to drawing is a way of tuning or honing my eye. The more I draw, the better I see and the more I understand. There’s always been a correlation between the strength of the work and the degree to which I’m drawing.

My previous post from Serra’s book is here.




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