How has music influenced your artwork and if you listen to music in your studio as you work, what are you listening to and why? Tom Marioni

Tom Marioni

I listen to jazz. I listen to jazz records and jazz radio in the studio, at home, and pretty much all of the time. As a conceptual artist my work takes many forms: sculpture, installation, performance, sound, drawing, printmaking, and so on. I don’t really see how it’s possible to discern whatever influence, generally speaking, music might have upon my work—some of my art is sound and some of my art is music. The following statement from my book Sculptures and Installations 1969 – 1997 details a specific instance of art and music in dialogue.

Drum Brush Drawing
Drum Brush Drawing, 1995-6
Steel on sandpaper, 35 x 24 inches
Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco

“I made my first drum brush drawings in 1972 and I continue to make these drawings, which are inspired by the automatic writings of the surrealist movement. The drawings are the result of rubbing and beating with steel wire drum brushes (like jazz drummers use) against a large sheet of sandpaper. The steel is transferred to the paper over a long period of time and the brushing on the sandpaper makes a rasping sound. The action is repetitive like that of a knife against a sharpening stone. The left hand makes a single arc, up and down, while the right hand moves in a circle-like motion in the shape of a violin or an artist’s palette. Over the years the drawings have changed only slightly, like handwriting changes as personality evolves. This becomes a kind of talking drumming, played on a hollow-core drawing board. The result is a pictorial record of the sound activity, a marriage of art and music. During a drawing/drumming session, because of the repetition of sound and action a trance state can occur and I can see elements of fantasy in the marks. To most people the results look like birds flying to the left.” (p. 24)