Artist Spotlight: Kurt Kauper
BY Christopher Harrity
July 16 2011 4:00 AM ET
The Advocate:Why are you an artist?
Kurt Kauper: I’m an artist first because I was always told I was good at drawing, which meant, when I was a child, that I could draw more “realistically” than most. So from a very early age I felt validated for that, if nothing else. And I can’t really recall being validated for much else. That validation gave me a sense of identity and a level of confidence that I could return to no matter what other difficulties I was confronted with.
Second, I grew up in a small, working-class, Irish Catholic town on the coast of Massachusetts; in that environment, athletic ability was privileged over all others. So I wanted to be a good athlete. I wasn’t. And that made me something of an outcast, at least insofar as masculinity was defined. By the time high school rolled around, it was clear I had no future as an athlete, and academics bored me to tears. But I knew I could draw and paint really well, so my inability to do other things had no negative impact on me at all. In late high school I completely committed myself to art and started looking at painters like Ingres and David. And that changed my life.
Finally, my mother was an excellent artist and an art teacher. So my desire to be an artist was never discouraged. When I decided I wanted to be a painter, the decision was met with total support.
What catches your eye?
Just off the top of my head:
The light in New York City, especially in the late afternoon/early evening when the rays of the sun are running parallel to the cross streets.
Beauty that estranges: paintings by Ingres, Meredith Frampton, Alice Neel, Andy Warhol, John Currin; Ed Ruscha’s artist books; Yasujiro Ozu’s films; L’Atalante; faces like Chloë Sevigny’s, Maria Callas’s, or Lea Michele’s.
Things that are just outside of our ability to comfortably categorize them.
Many other things — those just come to mind.