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October 1, 2014


Filed under: jack tworkov — Tags: — jherzlinger @ 7:42 am

I have wanted tow rite about JACK TWORKOV for some time, so today is it! I do hope you enjoy this post! Much Love,


Jack Tworkov: “I don’t try to accumulate the picture bit by bit—like pennies in a piggy bank.” And, in a c. 1959 note, out of The Extreme of the Middle edited  by Mira Schor .

“ I have practically no need for esthetic experience, for the worship of beauty or the nuances of fine feeling. I envy the real world, the world in which real things are made. I mourn the fact that I am a stranger to real voyages, to factories, to the modern mysteries of machines, science and mathematics, warfare, all the things that make the world, hard, deep, impenetrable, and as a matter of fact, cruel. I am a foreigner to all these enormous energies. “

“ My painting represents me in my chagrin, my alienation, my laziness, my impotence. To have to paint with a brush instead of with horsepower. The world of the ordinary man expands with the speed of light. Every schoolboy travels in space. The painter’s fate deals with square feet. No wonder we are a vanishing race.”

That un-trampled sense of the picayune, the futility of art—how terribly limited  its means and effects when opposed to the shrillness of the claims made on its behalf. Tworkov, too, insistent in a belief that richness lies in the overlap, the point of commingling, systems interfering with systems (“walking the hedge-row” in the ornithologist’s lingo, or “torn between the calligraphic and the structural”) and adamantly opposed to the way personality it self,  becomes a commodity in the arts (“If one wants to preserve integrity one must hide ones personality behind a bushel”). How refreshing Tworkov’s plain sense of trying to make art un-corrupted and honest. He writes (in a journal begun 21 January 1947 with the astoundingly self-possessed line: “Style is the effect of pressure”):

Tworkov’s quietly refuting of the heroics of art, pointing to Jackson Pollock, and asking: “Is He the Greatest Living Painter in the United States?”): (beginning with the extraordinary question: “Did it ever occur to Sophocles to write a play about himself?”):

Everyone who is an artist does it at the expense of being a hero. When the artist conceives himself a hero, he ceases to be an artist and proceeds to destroy himself. . . .

I like Tworkov’s sense of testing the “original impulse”—painting, opposed to constructing, or accumulating “bit by bit,” lines that follow the opening sentence:

Whenever in the course of the painting the picture arrives at some concept I submit it to random unrelated activity, to chance, to the opposite of itself. I submit the picture to a bettering and if something of the original impulse survives all that, then it stands. Often all I’ve got out of months of painting is what one would salvage from a shipwreck. Not perfection but the nearly inevitable consequence of having preferred a certain kind of action to another. . . .

Why all that? Out of less than satisfaction with one’s self, to spring open the limits of self. . . . To get out. The opposite of integration—to break open and out.

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