The Artist’s Rituals

Sep 5 2013 @ 8:01am

Wassily_Kandinsky,_Improvisation_27,_Garden_of_Love_II,_1912._Exhibited_at_the_1913_Armory_Show

In an interview, Daniel Siedell, an art historian and curator, connects the artist’s work to the spiritual life:

Although an artist is free do and make anything in the studio, she has a responsibility to do something. And that requires tremendous discipline and the willingness to ask the most fundamental questions. Each day she goes into the studio asking: “Who am I?”—”Who am I in relationship to this blank canvas, to the world outside the studio, to Nature, History, or a God who judges me?” …

Given the nature of their work, then, most artists I’ve worked with have developed a set of intentional practices and habits, spanning the profound to the mundane, the complex to the simple, that give a liturgical form to their work. These are very similar to the liturgies and spiritual disciplines of various religious traditions that include a sensitivity to their lived space, meticulous attention to their materials, certain postures, and, I might add, contemplation and meditation: a willingness to spend long hours just sitting in a chair looking at their work.

(“Improvisation 27 (Garden of Love II)” by Wassily Kandinksy, 1912, via Wikimedia Commons)