239 Things

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Studium Generale 1000things lectures, The Hague

239 Things

Christopher Rothko reads out the rules that his father, Mark Rothko, formulated in order to make a good work of art, in other words: the recipe for a great work of art, its ingredients, how to make it, its formula.

1 Death

There must be a clear preoccupation with death.

2 Sensuality

It is a lustful relationship to things that exist.

3 Tension

Either conflict or curbed desire.

4 Irony

This is a modern ingredient.

5 Wit and play

For the human element.

6 The ephemeral and chance

Also for the human element.

7 Hope

10%. Just enough to make the tragic more endurable. I think this is an example of my father’s great love of irony, but I think if we take him to seriously we’re in trouble.

Source: Dutch documentary De stilte van Rothko [Rothko's Silence] in which film maker Marojoleine Boonstra interviews Mark Rothko's son and his biographer among others. Worth the watch!

The art student at the School of Visual Arts in New York baked tens of thousands of cupcakes for a colourful installation in her home state of Dallas,


The art student at the School of Visual Arts in New York baked tens of thousands of cupcakes for a colourful installation in her home state of Dallas,


Tip 1
In Stil de tijd (in English: Stand Still Time,) Joke Harmsen writes of how withdrawing yourself from normal every day life can buy you time. This personal or inner time is not to be expressed in units of minutes or hours, but is simply experienced. She’s an advocate for more inner time. Because it’s only when you become aware of the importance of time that you’re capable of reflection and creativity.

Do you think people would be more creative if they have more time?
I think so, because rest, relaxation, and doing nothing are prerequisites to finding a window into that other time. You’ll notice this when you break free from ‘clock time’ and go on a walk, listen to music, or meditate. You’ll find yourself entering another sort of time that seems more connected to the ‘deeper self,’ as philosopher Henri Bergson named it. And inner time is likewise the source of creativity and authenticity.

Do you have any concrete suggestion?

Yes. Keep one afternoon a week free, and don’t be afraid to do nothing.

(Excerpt from interview with Katja de Bruin. To read more see Stil de tijd, Joke Hermsen, de Arbeiderspers

Tip 2
Drawing leads me to a point of total relaxation; you could almost call it an addiction. To work, I need to disable the rational: this is the process. Often, when I begin a work, I try to completely delve into the character that I’m about to make—to write down his or her thoughts and contemplations, but also how that person sees me; and allow the character to speak. There is an enormous freedom in writing, in placing yourself in another’s perspective. A work block is a personal barrier, and means that there’s something you have to admit to. I’ve developed my own ways, my own rituals, to enter that trance of making. Sometimes it might take me a whole day in the studio to enter this trance. I do other things, carry out practical matters, to try and speed up the process. Rituals, daily habits that get the process going.

Tip by Femmy Otten
Taken from the book by Rainer Maria Rilke, Brief aan jonge kunstenaar mandatory literature for the art student

Tip 3
A tip for drawers and painters: buy a cheap sketchbook, a Bic pen, a pencil, whatever you prefer. Fill the sketchbook in one go, don’t stop until it’s completely full, work through the night, drink a bottle of wine and don’t go cutting corners, don’t tear out any ‘failed’ drawings, and don’t judge.

Tip by Erik Mattijssen

Tip 4
Nowadays it seems as though everything has to come from the mind, while it’s movement that gets your body going and brings you closer to your feeling or your intuition. If you can’t get to work, go for a walk, a jog, tai chi, dancing, anything that makes you sweat and move. This will help you on your way. If you’re breaking your head over your work: movement will clear you head and provide room for new thoughts and solutions.

Tip by Wendela van der Hoeven.

Tip 5
My advice to get over a work block is to join in as many projects as you can, even if they feel far removed from your normal area of expertise: participate in performance workshops, work for others, go to Studium Generale all week until you’ve been completely oversaturated with theory and make a drawing every night of how you felt about these things, or what you thought about them. You could also write everyone in your class a letter, organize a miniature exhibition of your work in the store window of an eyeglasses or wool shop, organize a fancy dress party and create a special setting for it, pretend be commissioned to make a fresco for an important chapel, etcetera. You could do these things with others, maybe even some outside of the art world, or you could ask your fellow art students to join.

Tip by Marian Theunissen

André Thijssen, Aksacoka, Turkey
André Thijssen, Amsterdam, Netherlands 2011
André Thijssen, Amsterdam, Netherlands 2012
André Thijssen, Aksacoka, Turkey

Is there any feeling, besides happiness, that surpasses the experience of adventure? Yes, the pleasant surprise of the new. This can happen even when well into old age and pockmarked by years bygone, if you remain open to the experience of receiving these novel encounters.

André Thijssen, Aksacoka, Turkey

As a maker of images, with the camera as my tool, I’ve done the necessary travelling in search of adventure. Awakening in a strange bed, in a new location, and entering a new world after breakfast, full of anticipation, is always pleasantly charged.

André Thijssen, Amsterdam, Netherlands 2011

One can avoid an expensive plane ticket by veering from your usual routine. Preferentially by walking, so that you’ll be able to catch details that may seem unimportant

André Thijssen, Amsterdam, Netherlands 2011

I find it an extraordinary sensation to glimpse an intriguing mystery in the corner of your eye that makes you slow your pace.

When the two dimensional reproduction of such a mystery still conjures that same enjoyable feeling of the inscrutable in both yourself and in others, one could say that you have a successful work before you.

André Thijssen, Amsterdam, Netherlands 2012

The images in my archive are not always of equal obscurity; some are of a more anecdotal nature. These photos are more about situations, sometimes puzzling as to why someone would leave a situation a certain way.

André Thijssen, Aksacoka, Turkey, 2011
For editorial commissions I often delve into this part of my archive first. An image placed next to text demands a different approach: an autonomous image applied associatively results in a more exciting interaction that a servile illustration spelling all out. Editorial images don’t always need to clarify but can, as I prefer, to evoke discussion.

Approaching the subject from an unexpected angle can result in new, surprising meaning.

André Thijssen, Rincon de la Victoria, Spain 2013




André Thijssen, Sania, Hainan, China 2007
André Thijssen, Haarlem, Netherlands 2012
André Thijssen, Haarlem, Netherlands 2012
Rules found in an unknown place (Ryan Gander)

When is a work finished? What criteria should a work meet? For example, has the process of making been completed, does it meet all demands, have all other possibilities been explored and rejected?

Mondriaan was in the middle of making Victory Boogie Woogie, yet we see it as an important masterpiece. Isn't the beauty of Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia situated in the possibility that it may never be completed?

Karel Appel quite succinctly stated ‘I watch my paintings until they're finished’ (translated from Dutch, ‘ik kijk mijn schilderijen af’).

The Guggenheim in Bilbao shows/showed works that show yet another aspect of being-finished.

The oeuvres of both Anish Kapoor and Jeff Koons include work that show an exceptional duality, namely the completely finished work and the work that always holds a certain unfinished nature. As a result of thorough technical research, Koon’s work Tulips contains an astonishing impeccability that reaches the extent of perfection and finish.
In front of the museum is his Puppy that, through the growth of vegetation, displays an endless range of variation.
Kapoor’s mirror and pigment works are so immaculately construed and so pure in their execution that they require no addition or alteration, and seem forever petrified.

The works Shooting into the Corner and My Red Homeland, on the other hand, constantly change form through a repeated action or a constant movement.