Artist Q&A with Augustus Goertz
Augustus Goertz was born in 1948 and raised together with two sisters in an artistic/bohemian household by artist parents, Esther Meyer Goertz, and August Goertz, in Greenwich Village, New York City. He received his education at LaGuardia High School in NYC, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, and earned his BFA in Viusal Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute in San Francisco, CA, where he studied with Bruce Nauman, Jay Defeo, and Wally Hedrick.
Who is your favorite artist of all time?
Either a nameless cave painter or that productive bad boy of all time Pablo Picasso.
How did you become a professional artist?
Among my very first memories are those of making art. Both my parents were artists. My father was a painter and my mother did mostly woodcuts. I grew up playing with their materials and never stopped.
What are the influences and inspirations in your work?
Jay Defeo said to me, “You are already an artist. Why are you in art school?” Bruce Nauman said to me, “You are the best sculptor who is actually a painter.” Roy Lichtenstein said to me in his kitchen, “You always have to go over everything yourself, if you want it done right.” Tom Akawie, who taught me spray painting, is also a major influence in my work.
How is your work different than everything else out there?
I think my work is very philosophical. In my view, art is philosophy made manifest. Conceptually, I have a lifelong interest in our place in the universe. The big perspective. Because of this, I developed an interest in the ramifications of quantum theory. Another interest has been in trying to visualize the texture of the universe. The matter energy conjunction. This combination of ideas, and my artifact making love of painting process, led me to continually experiment with materials to create actual texture. Working with sand or cement, or the found detritus of society, I improvise a veritable topography of surface, using as paint, anything that makes a lasting mark or stain. Over the years, I’ve used wood stains and lacquers, heat set dyes, photo emulsion. In other series creating the illusion of space, material and texture, by switching up the application of paint with spray painting equipment. All in the service of searching out my personal view, perspective of reality.
When is a piece finished for you?
The actual experience of knowing when a work is finished, happens over a period of days, or even weeks. A moment comes when I can’t see anything left to change. I put the work aside, or hang it on the wall of the studio, and begin one or more new works. Sometimes, I get an idea, or see a change needed on the one I put aside, as a result of what I’m doing with the new work. However, if, after leaving the work up for days or longer, and it still holds up, then I am ready to let it out of the studio, or show it as a finished work.
What’s different about your current body of work?
After working for years with greater and greater amounts of texture, real topographies of paint, where the layered works became almost impossible for me to move by myself, they were so heavy; I returned to my early process work. Creating with spray paint, lightly applied, Trompe-l’oeil, effects of folded surface. However, repurposing it to imagine visually my long running interest in quantum theory, spirit, soul, and the problem of mortality.
Tell us about a few of your career highlights or moments that have greatly affected your career?
In my early years, Larry Aldrich provided a number of highlights. He showed my work at his Center For Visual Arts in Soho. That was my first New York exhibition. Later, he bought my work and put it in a couple of shows at his museum in Connecticut. Once, I went out to his museum, The Aldrich Museum, to see an exhibition that I was not in. Passing through a gallery on the way to the current show, I saw a large painting of mine named “Balls”, hanging side by side with the works of some of my heroes including Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein, and others, I was told Larry hung his favorite works in his collection, in that room.
What’s coming up for you?
I will continue my individual work, and helping to nurture Lichtundfire in New York City, the gallery and community of artists which I co-founded with now gallery director Priska Juschka. My work has been recently included in Lichtundfire’s exhibitions Expanding Space and Abstract Singularity showing abstract work in various media with themes that relate to the expanse of both our own consciousness, and that of the world and the universe. I am also working on a solo exhibition at Lichtundfire that is scheduled for the spring of 2022.
What advice would you give to an artist just starting out today?
I probably would say to an artist starting out today, you had better love making art because it ain’t easy. It takes a long time and a lot of work to have a clue.
Who are some of your favorite under appreciated artists that you don’t think get enough attention?
Some of the artists that come to mind now are mixed media artists including, Carol Boram-Hays, Karlos Carcamo, Miguel Otero-Fuentes, Christopher Stout, and Gerald Wolfe.
To learn more about Augustus and his work, please visit www.AugustusGoertz.com.