There are hundreds of artists that I enjoy, albeit there are only a few that built a philosophical world with their works that inspired me. These artists had a monumental impact on my development as an artist. I followed my intuition, my dreams, and created a path to be who I already knew I was.
With further ramblings…
10. Salvador Dali.Spanish, 1904-1989
I put good old Salvador last place because he was an adolescent inspiration. I thought his paintings were the coolest thing ever (this is after brief fascination with M.C. Escher and Hieronymus Bosh). I was also a virgin and thought bugs were cool, so you can’t depend on my early analysis of Dali. Still I feel his works are great, but I also see them as trite. I just grew out of surrealism. Regardless of my conceptual thoughts these days, Dali was a major part in my becoming an artist.
9. Commander Mark Kistler.
This guy is the biggest dork of all time, and I watched his TV show on PBS every day as a child. He taught me the basics of drawing (okay my grandmother taught me all of that, but this guy liked space ships, dragons, and unibears, so in the eyes of a child, he had my attention). I owe this guy (amongst many others) a true sense of gratitude for the early influence.
8. Roy Lichtenstein.
Sometime in my teenage years, I was introduced to Lichtenstein, and I didn’t like his work at all. In 1998 my mentor reintroduced his work to me and I grew to admire his social subtlety as his content was both a reflection of his era and a critique.
7. Yayoi Kusama.Japanease, born 1929
She is crazy and absolutely amazing. I didn’t discover Kusama’s work until mid 1999. Her work is the most challenging installation pieces in our time. I didn’t like installation works until I studied Kusama’s portfolio. After studying her work, I started seeing my own paintings as a set needing to be installed with purpose and composition as an environment. I first tested out this composition of the installation of paintings in 2000 at diStilo Art Gallery during the “Priority Mail” exhibit. It worked for me, and I have continued to develop the ideas of installation as composition since.
6. Piet Mondrian.
I have read everything Mondrian has ever written that is available to the public. His writing on Neo-plasticism have had a profound impact on how I think about the end result of painting. Mondrian deserves a place in world history as one of our great master painters.
5. Takashi Murakami.
Japanese, Born 1962
If your looking for modern POP art, then this is your guy. He is the front man for a movement of artists that focus on creating works of art “Super Clean.” His control of his brushes gave me the drive to be a better painter.
4. Francis Bacon.
Irish born, Brittish, 1909-1992
The shear destructive part of man and painting, the violence I understand in the world, and the reflection it all leaves inside us, is Bacon. Francis bacon was a completely honest artist. For that reason alone, he is an admirable artist. His work, just simply pleasing to me as I can relate to them in a way I can not relate to you.
3. Willem de Kooning.
Born Netherlands, American, 1904-1997
Willem de Kooning’s life and work are a climb back to peace of mind. His works are absolutely beautiful and perfect as they truly reflect the nature of his mind, how he saw the world, and the underlying truth about the lie of American culture. I have learned more about pure painting from de Kooning than any other artist. I followed his retrospective around the nation, as one would follow the Grateful Dead from concert to concert, I went from museum to museum. It was a great year traveling, visiting museums and constantly being able to see his masterworks. Willem de Kooning was the best of the abstract expressionists, and a master painter who I believe found peace of mind at the end (possible only as a result of alzheimer’s crippling his memory). I learned how to forget and remember from him.
2. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.
Light and darkness were his champions. Caravaggio’s work showed me that space and large open forms (or backgrounds) are as important a part of an oil painting as the subject mater itself. His blinding focus on reality, and the beauty of light falling across a subject, gave me a fascination for classical thought. Before Caravaggio, I wasn’t interested in classic works of art. After Caravaggio, I see just how much harder I have to work within compositional abstraction to obtain a level of honesty, so as to exhibit the dramatic within mankind. Caravaggio was a bastard of a man and a master painter, so I named my dog after him.
And at long last, the artist that influenced me the most…
1. Wassily Kandinsky.
I have read everything Kandinsky wrote at least ten times or more. He is the father of abstract art, and a master oil painter who changed the course of art forever. Kandinsky’s “On the Spiritual in Art,” deeply forced an evolution within me as to how I produce works of art. And “On point to Line to Plane” gave me the idea to developed my own language within oil painting. As most of you know, I have traveled often to simply spend time with his work.
Kandinsky, thanks man…
…I learned so much from you.