“My advice would be to work as hard as you can on your work and get interested. Use anything you can, get hold of anything you can. Study that and work at it. You have to work at it a lot. Research, do your work, and get as much knowledge as you can from as many people as you can. That’s about it.”
At the age of eighty seven Claude Van Lingen has had a long career as an artist and is still doing as much as he is able to create work everyday. He has since he was a child sought to learn about and practice art, and as an adult has additionally spent many years teaching young artists and giving back. Initially he was trained in a very academic style but then eventually got into more abstract and non conventional work and made breakthroughs after following his own advice that he gave his students in a class on creativity he created. After moving from South Africa to New York City in 1978 he gained an MFA from the Pratt Institute, and in 2006 moved to Austin.
The Austin Critics Table awarded him Artist of the Year 2013-2014, and Solo Exhibition of the year 2017-2018 following a career retrospective at Co-Lab Projects. His work often looks at the passage of time and addresses natural disasters and other issues that have been exacerbated by the impact of man on the planet.
I love how dedicated Claude is to the Austin art community. You will often see him out at art openings and he does take a serious look at the work presented and researches and contemplates its meaning. It was an honor to interview him and it's wonderful to know an artist who is still so passionate about his craft and the issues that are important to him.
He is also working on a book that he summarizes here:
“Art, Creativity and Controversy, Why and How Artists Create Controversial Work is based on the premise that it is within the philosophy and zeitgeist (spirit) of the times that innovative artists develop new ideas and use the means most suitable to interpreting them.
By understanding WHY adventurous artists create unusual work skeptics will, (even if they still don't like the work) be able to discuss it intelligently and not denigrate it.”
Some of the subjects we discuss:
Concern for the world
Perceptual studies class
Being an adventurous artist
Dealing with fear and failures
Examples of work
Getting the viewer thinking
Writing/words in work
1000 years/the future
Life to the fullest
Beginnings with art
Researching other artists
Current and future work
Banner image - 1000 YEARS FROM NOW
Endangered and Threatened Species of the 21st Century, 2006 - All Species
18" x 48" - 6B Graphite Stick and 9H Pencil on paper
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Intro music generously provided by Stan Killian