Joan Snyder: Interview

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Cara Manes interviews painter Joan Snyder about her work. Snyder's painting Sweet Cathy’s Song (For Cathy Elzea) (1978) is included in a new installation of works on the fourth floor of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York.

Asked about her use of the grid, Snyder remarks: "The source of the grid began for many reasons, one being the desire for narrative in the work. How to structure that. And I had been very interested in music—the staff providing lines for notes—plus I had been working with children…and had become very used to seeing children’s drawings on lined yellow paper. Those drawings became one of my inspirations for the grid. The other, strangely enough, was the wall in my studio on Mulberry Street. The top half was white plaster and the bottom half tongue-in-groove wood painted white. I was sitting one day looking at my painting and noticed the drips that had fallen onto the vertically lined wood wall. I said to myself that that was how I wanted my paintings to look. The next painting I made had some lines and very delicate drips falling onto an undulating surface of white. The very next painting was what I refer to as my breakthrough painting called Lines And Strokes, done in 1969.…I do think my use of the grid came from my own search, not from any minimalist theory, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t affected by what was going on. I, though, wanted more in my paintings, not less…and I wanted narrative. The grid worked for me for those reasons."

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