cover image Art Rules: How Great Artists Think, Create, Work

Art Rules: How Great Artists Think, Create, Work

Cassie Packard. Frances Lincoln, $24.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-711-27029-9

Art historian Packard (editor of Robert Duran) takes a stimulating look at how artists from the 18th century to the present day conceived of, wrestled with, and discussed their work. Artists approach their creative process, professional practice, and notions of success in varied, sometimes disparate ways, according to Packard: American painter Helen Frankenthaler, who pioneered a “soak-stain” painting method in which she “tilted the canvas, boldly letting the color pool, seep, and bloom... for [a] highly evocative visual effect,” advised young artists to “go against... or ignore the rules,” as she did, while French Neoclassical painter Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres expressly instructed students to draw inspiration from fellow artists, contending that those who fail to do so will eventually resort to self-imitation. Elsewhere, Packard discusses how 19th-century French painter Gustave Courbet found it essential to “portray the real, even when it [was] unflattering”; how German-born Anni Albers, who “played a critical role in establishing the place of textiles in... modernist art” emphasized the value of heeding “what the material tells you”; and how photographer Kia LaBeija, whose work “addresse[s] the complicated reality of living with HIV,” drives home the role of representation in art. Combining generous prints of artists’ work with pared-down quotes, Packard lets each artist speak for themselves, making for a vibrant tribute to endlessly varied frameworks of “making and being.” Creatives of all stripes will be energized. (Oct.)