Monday, October 4, 2010

Five Interviews With John McCracken

Installation view of John McCracken, "New Works in Bronze and Steel," at David Zwirner, New York. Photo: 16 Miles

The sculptures in John McCracken's current show at David Zwirner have names like Electric, Sunlight, Star, and Infinite: they carry celestial references and positive vibes. They are reminders of just how much fun it is going to be to look at a McCracken catalogue raisonné when it is completed, filled with page after page of totems, planks, and wall pieces in every possible color, each with a heart-breaker of a title. (MoMA's bubble-gum pink plank, The Absolutely Naked Fragrance, 1967, is a favorite.) But not only is McCracken great at naming his pieces, he is also great at talking about his work. Here are five especially great quotations:
  • "I make kind of noticeably minimal and I think maximal art. As beautiful as possible. I try to make beautiful things because I like to do it. I like that kind of thing. I mean, for example, I don't like horror movies too much if they are too bad. If they're fun, then OK! But I like good things in the world. Positive things. Things that are uppers and so forth. To me art isn't good unless it is good. That is, unless it's an upper. And that could be tricky of course. Some things that are a little bit hard to take are uppers after all, and meant to be uppers and so forth." – John McCracken, August 2009 [PDF], for his 2009 show at Inverleith House, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, Scotland (Thank you to Liza Buzytsky for finding, scanning, and uploading this.)
  • "It seems to me that art has to be optimistic. I think art that isn't optimistic isn't art. It's difficult to figure out where the optimism may lie. Art can be disturbing but have a positive effect." – John McCracken, interviewed by Dike Blair, May 1997
  • "I was always primarily interested in form alone, but then to make a form, you have to make it out of something. So color seemed a natural material to use, because color is abstract. If you make a form that appears to be composed of color, then you have something, an object, that's pretty abstract. Just form alone would be more abstract, of course, because it's just a mental idea, but you don't have anything there for your perceptions to grapple with unless you make it out of a material." – John McCracken, interviewed by Thomas Kellein, August 1995
  • "That’s a good example of what I’m talking about. Of course, that monolith was essentially a technological instrument – but I sometimes think of my works as technological instruments, too." – John McCracken, when asked if he felt his sculptures resembled the monoliths in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, in an interview with Frances Colpitt, 1998