On Being An Artist || Michael Craig-Martin

On the face of it, you could be forgiven for assuming that artists speak through their paintings and drawings rather than their writings. You would, however, probably acknowledge that they also have some very pertinent and interesting things to say, although these are often short, gnomic and come out in interviews. Extended pieces are rarer.

This, then, is a very rare beast indeed. Although it’s quite a substantial tome, it’s not a tract, or even a manifesto. Rather, it’s a series of observations, some quite long, others very short, on life, art and artists. It has the feeling of things Michael Craig-Martin has written down as they occurred to him, a series of extended Tweets, as it were. Subject matter varies from “On being fair”, an account of being asked not to teach so engagingly so as not to upset a fellow lecturer, to accounts of meetings with Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns and of studying under Josef Albers.

Michael Craig-Martin has led a varied and often colourful life, making his writing informed and informative. He taught for many years at Goldsmith’s College and did much to foster the careers of the group that came to be known as the Young British Artists (the YBAs). This is also a timely publication, as he is curating the RA’s Summer exhibition for 2015. It is very much a book to pick up and open at random. That way, delightful little nuggets will spring out at you and set you up for the whole of the rest of the day.

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