My language is vibrant color and line.

Homage to... - about Inspiration in Art

Homage to... moves on a border area: the boundary between art and non-art...

While working on the concept of Homage to... I examined various positions of art philosophy. It were Immanuel Kant (1724 - 1804), Benedetto Croce (1866 - 1952) and Arthur C. Danto (1924) that I found especially interesting.

Immanuel Kant

For Immanuel Kant it is aesthetic ideas that underlie any kind of creative process, thus views, an in its boundaries undetermined field of related notions that animate the mind and that cannot be assigned to any concept nor discursively fixed, however represented. The capacity to develop aesthetic ideas would then be the actual mark of artistic genius: the artist is led by them on his creative path and follows apparently unintentionally, often unconsciously.

Homage to... investigates upon these "notions animating the mind ". In my invitation to the participating artists I asked:

  • Who influences me?
  • Who or what inspired me to make a certain work or body of work, where from did the idea derive?
  • Which books influenced me, which music, which movies?
  • Which other artists are (or simply: people) do I consult (and be it in thoughts only) if I am caught up for a moment, cannot move on, am lost within a work - and all of a sudden: things lighten up again?

Usually an artist cannot say how and for what reasons certain ideas emerged or interconnected in his head; an aesthetic idea cannot be (discursively) fixed anyway: it is and remains an "inexplicable notion of imagination" and this is why installation is perhaps the most favourable means expression for them.

Quite clearly the artists participating in the Homage to... project only represent one aspect, one single influence on their creative process. An aesthetic idea however is composed of many different influences.

Benedetto Croce

For Benedetto Croce each work of art is an expression of insight, whereby it is specially intuitive insight that is required in the creative process. Intuitive insight - that has to do with imagination and perception; it mediates mental images, however no rationally tangible concepts; an intuition is the active, intellectual formation of a given material that consists on its part of a complex of perceptions.

Therefore... the artist draws a kind of conclusion of his perceptions and consequently "understands" something which he finally expresses. The clarity of the expression shows the clarity of the insight, and this is exactly Croce's criterion for quality in art.

Croce says: "the artist perceives more than we others." That is similar to... reading between the lines... An artist sees this movie, reads this book, hears this music... and between the lines he suddenly sees something entirely different, new... and expresses it in ART.

The "altars" of the Homage to... project thus allow a little insight into the "complex of perceptions" out of which - through active intellectual formation - an intuition emerges which then will be foundation the a work of art.

Arthur C. Danto

Arthur C. Danto carries this idea even a little further when he says: art is always about something (aboutness); interpretation is important, knowledge about the original situation, regarding the historical context, regarding the work context. If the perception of the work of art changes as we receive more information regarding its aboutness, it is because instead of "thing" we now have a piece of "art" before us.

Therewith also the boundary between "already art" and "not yet art" shifts: Homage to... is a work about the creative process itself - and therefore again art. because it mediates knowledge, insight; Homage to... makes the inner landscape visible that is home ground of a piece of art, however not in a conceptual manner (like philosophy would do), but rather in a metaphorical way, in an image, an installation. Nevertheless: art and philosophy are approaching each other.

Artist Altars

A work of Thomas Hirschhorn gave impetus to the Homage to... project. He also built altars to "his artists". What are the differences? I cannot really tell, as except of photos and a short description I never saw his work; I do not know to what extent Hirschhorn actually examines the topic of "inspiration/influence" and the creative process as discussed in philosophy - two core aspects of my approach. My focus is the question: what is a work of art, how does it emerges, what happens in this very moment of detaching, when the work comes into existence, when it is virtually born?

And perhaps there is yet something else to note about the Homage to... project: the individual installations may be - in last instance - even something entirely different: portraits of artists - by themselves, self portraits, portraits of their inner landscapes... maybe not about who they are in everyday life however: about who they are as artists.

Karin U. Soika

Photos Hommage Project: Sophie Rank and Christian Niewöhner
Texts Hommage Project: all rights reserved by the artists

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