The New Yorker’s Calvin Tomkins wrote an engaging profile of artist Bruce Nauman in the June 1, 2009 issue.
I found myself underlining a number of quotes, but was most struck by Nauman’s studio routine.
Tomkins writes of Nauman’s younger days:
His studio process, then and now, was to read and think until an idea took hold of him. . [emphasizes his reading list here]. . “I was trying to understand what art is and what artists do,” he told me,” and a lot of that, for me, seemed to involve watching and waiting to see what would happen. When I’m desperate enough to just do anything, even if it seems completely stupid, it’s such a relief.” In those days, he hoped that sooner or later he’d figure out how to make art without such a struggle, but it never happened. “My dad once said, ‘You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day,’ but I think you do,” he told me. “Maybe not every day, but pretty often.”
“Read and think.” “Watching and waiting.”
Artist as observer and synthesizer of words and ideas.
And nothing is easy. Every piece of art is a battle.
If you struggle with your work, you’re in good company.