Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mary Holmes on Eduardo Carrillo

My teacher and mentor, Mary Holmes, had this to say about the artist, Eduardo Carrillo.

And he got the money together and he went to Spain because that is where Bosch is. He simply submitted himself to Bosch and in that submission, of course, he became enormously powerful as a painter.

The worst thing that can happen to people is they never submit themselves to anything, and there they are floating in a kind of limbo and it doesn’t matter what they do. The power to submit yourself and through that become strong is the greatest thing anyone, a painter or anybody, can do, certainly anyone in the arts at the present time when there is no powerful tradition to make you this or that. You are on your own to create not just yourself but the whole meaning of your life, in terms of art.

I discovered these words of hers, spoken at a memorial service for the artist, quite by chance today. Although I knew her, or rather, observed her, over a long period of time, I did not know of this moment, or her relation with this artist, many years her junior, but also some years my senior. As is said, the hand of the artist is revealed in everything they do, so the voice of a wonderful speaker is apparent even in the less lively lines of type. It is maybe not so apparent without her voice. But I, blessed that I am, can still hear it. For the complete (and short) speech, check here.


  1. I visited the Prado a few years ago. "El Jardin de las Delicias" was -- temporarily off display because it was being cleaned.

    So I subitted myself to Velasquez and to Goya's "Black Paintings." That was one of my most memorable trips. I still can't draw a straight line, though.
    Detectives Beyond Borders
    "Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

  2. You know, this is just a little bit odd, but I was hanging around waiting for the staff meeting this morning, and this book grabbed my attention from our used book bins. It was The Old Goya by Julia Blackburn. I pulled it out and started reading it at the information desk, in between doling out excellent customer service, of course. It's a fascinating book about Goya, particularly after he went deaf, but within the first few pages, she does mention those Black Paintings. I bought it before I left work.

    I've never been to Spain, but I hope I get there one day.

    I don't think drawing a straight line has anything to do with being able to respond to art, by the way. It might help if you were an artist--or an engineer.

  3. Seana,

    Wow, just read this and it really spoke to me. I think it's another (better) way of saying "learn the rules before you break them."

    Too too many people want to skip step one and go straight to step two.

  4. Brian, I have a feeling that you would have really loved Mary. I could write a whole book about her, but in fact, a very good one has already been done. Addi Somekh and photographer Charlie Eckert have done a wonderful book called Mary Holmes: Paintings and Ideas, which gathers together both her own paintings and her ideas about art in general. I don't know that it's in print at this point, but Amazon can get it, and I'm sure Powell's and ABE books can track it down for anyone who is interested.

    She was a marvel.

  5. I thought this would be an appropriate place to say thank you for your sweet words about the publishing of my book. For years I submitted myself wholly to an intense effort and now it is something bigger and stronger than I could have imagined. Thank you for your encouragement over on Adrian's blog!

  6. Greg, you're right--this particular post does seem does seem like a very appropriate place to talk about persisting in and succeeding with a project you care about. Looks like you're getting some great reviews on Amazon!

  7. Oh, meant to say for anyone who might happen by that you can check out Greg's book, There is an Urgency