Blog #180 10/20/16
Dance Study: Paloma Herrera; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Beauty Study #1300; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Why do artists make art?
There is a great deal written about this subject, and if you ask ten artists, you’ll get ten different answers.
Here’s my take on this question.
Underwater Study #19; The Morgan Library, New York, NY
I make photographs from an internal imperative, a sort of gut compulsion. I am, and have always been, curious. I need to know what the world around me looks like, and the view of this world is especially fascinating through my camera.
In my studio, and driven by this curiosity, I attempt to find and create things that are new, special, peculiar, different, exciting. I work to invent imagery that was not there before, a new world I can enter, investigate, and search.
Underwater Study #1359; Lobby of Bank of America Building, New York, NY
Whether the world is real or created, my quests are a constant process of discovery. What will this look like? If I try that, where will it take me? What will I find?
An additional force pushing me to make art is simply to surprise myself, to find and delight in a personal treasure hunt.
Cirque du Soleil “O” Study #44; Grand Central Terminal, New York, NY
From a Fashion Editorial “Eccentric New York” Studies #008, #006, and #011; Grand Central Terminal, New York, NY
Another motive for making art is to learn about oneself. Who am I? What compels me? What inner forces drive me to search, see, and find; what things are there in this world that I yearn to investigate and examine? Sometimes I only answer these questions when I observe myself doing what I do. We discover who we are by doing. The entire journey described above has been, and remains, pure joy for me.
Athletes Olga Karmansky and Tiki Barber (right); Whitney Museum, New York, NY
Underwater Study “Atlantis 001”; The Whitney Museum, New York, NY
Not the least motivation is what I’d call the “Look at me!” factor, the desire of all artists (except for the rare art hermit) to have their work seen by others, and the more, the better. For artistic fulfillment, the work must get out into the world and attract attention. Even photographers whose images are seen in the pages of magazines, whether editorial or advertising, want wider exposure. They may see their pictures on gigantic billboards in Times Square, but they still want their work seen on the walls of major galleries and important museums.
Dancers Andrew Asnes and Rachel Berman-Benz; Wall in SOHO, corner Houston St at Broadway, New York, NY
I suspect that both Richard Avedon and Irving Penn, major luminaries in fashion and advertising, didn’t feel that they’d actually reached the pinnacle of their careers until their work hung on the walls of the world’s most important art museums.
Dance Study #1061 Heather Vaughn; The Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
Dancers Kathryn Petak, Eric Hoisington and Kim Bartosik; The Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY
I’ve had the satisfaction of seeing my images in many magazines, in advertising campaigns, on billboards, in 21 books (https://howardschatz.com/books.php), on gallery walls, as well as a few dozen museums, (most recently in the current exhibition WHO SHOT SPORTS at the Brooklyn Museum, curated by Gail Buckland). And yet I continue to wonder how all sorts of my pictures would look in all sorts of other places, being seen by countless individuals. This desire for even more exposure is embarrassing to admit, but I believe anyone who makes art has this desire, a fantasy rooted in real aspiration.
Liquid Light Study #1131; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Boxer Mike Tyson; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Given the possibilities emerging from my own imagination, I’ve been working on and have created an illusion, an artistic fiction that displays my photos in museums, in corporate lobbies, on buildings and even in the New York subway. Though this is an imagined reality, it gives me the distinct delight of seeing what my photos would look like in a kind of dreamscape. And, it has become a project that pushes me to search for new and exciting possibilities. Where would my pictures work best, fit most perfectly, astonish those who might come upon it? The project has been fascinating, challenging, stimulating, engaging, amusing and deeply revealing. I walk around with my camera asking myself: “Where does my work belong, and which of my photographs fits best into a given environment?”
The search and discoveries are endless, and the process satisfies the creative forces within me.
Dancers Rosalynde LeBlanc and Arthur Aviles; Hippodrome Building, New York, NY
Portraits: Peter Dinklage, Jeff Daniels, Geoffrey Rush, David Strathairn, David Schwimmer; New York City Subway Platform
Dancer Askia Swift; Building, 6th Avenue, New York, NY
Underwater Study #1332; Empire State Bldg, New York, NY
A fantasy? Sure. But who knows? One day, perhaps….