When I was in art school I saw the film Painters Painting at least a half dozen times. It's a film that interviews painters from a range of American art movements including: Abstract Expressionists, Action Painters, Assemblage, Pop Art, Color Field, and Minimalists.

It shows the artists in their studios talking about their process and their approach to their medium. As the title suggests it's all about painting and it was a time when artists where dramatically pushing the boundaries of the medium. I've linked to the video below.

Some of my take aways:

  • Several of the artists were well into their 40's before they had their first solo show.
  • Newman, who is famous for his "zip" paintings, spent a good 8-9 months staring at a zip painting wondering what else to do to it before he realized that the painting was filled. 
  • A painting is not a window it's a beginning and end all at once.
  • The size of paintings grew during this time and a contributing factor of this would be the size of the spaces artists were able to work in. Using old factories instead of cramped city center apartments.
  • The obsession with the medium, popular during these years, is actually more of an appreciation for process than would be assumed. 
  • A good piece looks as though it's made in one stroke.
  • The hierarchy of materials broke down.
  • Art doesn't come from art.
  • I believe it was the interview with Jules Olitski where I found these two quotes. "If there is anything you wanna do that's meaningful, DO IT." and "Taking the chance to play and to wreck...to destroy. I find it very exciting and irresistible."