Four o’clock in the afternoon. This must be December. The light – there’s not much of it at this time of year. Thank goodness for lightbulbs.
In the book on Walter Hopps, he is ruminating on why the light bulb as subject matter comes up so frequently in modern art and realized that – since the invention of that same light bulb – most artists work indoors or at night. Thus the reverence for the source of illumination.
Walter Hopps covers his deep understanding of many artists, but I was particularly moved by what he shared about Robert Rauschenberg. Rauschenberg, one of the most well-known and prolific artists during the last half of the 20th century was born in Texas to a very poor family. His father insisted that he sleep on the porch until he was ten. Once inside, he created a wall with milk cartons and began collecting items of interest and images that he cut out. Later in life, he was doing very much the same in his home setting: but the items would be artwork by famous artist friends given as gifts side by side with stones or other odd items he’d picked up. He created art easily, and just as easily put it out into the world. And in return, the world compensated with generous remuneration. What amazes me is that he could come from such stark circumstances but never put his focus on the money value of things – in childhood or as an adult. He was constantly creating huge bodies of work but rarely were they in his studio – they were out in the world. His art moved. It sold. But, for him, his financial success was a by-product. Not important when he lacked it and not important when he gained it.
It was the art. All about the art. Creating.
All about the light.