Wednesday, August 24, 2011

reminder: inspiration is pervasive

Lecture at Cornell University
Given by Agnes Martin
January 1972

I want to talk to you about "the work", art work.
I will speak of inspiration, the studio, viewing art work, friends of art and artist's temperaments.
But your interest and mine is really "the work" - works of art.
Art work is very important in the way that I will try to show when I speak about inspiration.
I have sometimes put myself ahead of my work in my mind and have suffered in consequence.
I thought, me, me; and I suffered.
I thought I was important.  I was taught to think that.  I was taught:  "You are important; people are important beyond anything else."
But thinking that I suffered very much.
I thought that I was big and "the work" was small.  It is not  possible to go on that way.  To think I am big and the work is big.  
The position of pride is not possible either.
And to think I am small and the work is small, the position of modesty, is not possible.
I will go on to inspiration and perhaps you will see what is possible.
As I describe inspiration I do not want you to think I am speaking of religion.
That which takes us by surprise - moments of happiness - that is inspiration.  Inspriation which is different from daily care.
Many people as adults are so startled by inspiration which is different from daily care that they think they are unique in having had it.  Nothing could be further from the truth.
Inspritation is there all the time.
For everyone whose mind is not clouded over with thoughts whether they realize it or not.
Most people have no realization whatever of the moments in which they are inspired.
Inspiration is pervasive but not a power.
It's a peaceful thing.
It is a consolation even to plants and animals.
Do not think that it is unique.
If it were unique, no one would be able to respond to your work.
Do not think it is reserved for a few or anything like that.
It is an untroubled mind.
Of course we know that an untroubled state of mind cannot last.  So we say that inspiration comes and goes but really it is there all the time waiting for us to be untroubled again.  We can therefore say that it is pervasive.  Young children are more untroubled than adults and have many more inspirations.  All the moments of inspiration added together make what we call sensibility.  The development of sensibility is the most important thing.  Some parents put the development of social mores ahead of aesthetic development.  Small children are taken to the park for social play; sent to nursery school....  But the little child sitting alone, perhaps even neglected and forgotten, is the one open to inspiration and the development of sensibility.

1 comment:

Penney said...

I just love this... thanks for posting. xo