Joy in Repetition

Andy Warhol Shadows Installation Bilbao 2016
“I like things to be exactly the same over and over again” —Andy Warhol

Up on the mic repeating two words
over and over again
Was this woman he had never noticed before
he lost himself in the
Articulated manner in which she said them.
These two words, a little bit behind the beat.
I mean just enough to turn you on.
For every time she said the words another one of his doubts were gone…
She only said the words again
and it started to rain
Two words falling between the drops
and the moans of his condition
Holding someone is truly believing
There’s joy in repetition.
There’s joy in repetition.
There’s joy in repetition.
There’s joy in repetition.
There’s joy in repetition.
There’s joy in repetition.
She said
love me
love me,
What she say?
She say
love me,
love me.
Prince – Joy in Repetition, 1990

Donald Judd Untitled 1992

“For [Donald Judd] there was no mythology about the beauty of the stroke that came from the hand of the artist. This work, like all of Judd’s work from this time, was made by a fabricator in a shop. Art was a matter-of-fact thing. It wasn’t going to tell you anything about Donald Judd’s soul.
The idea of repetition goes hand in hand with that. If you have one unit used again and again and again that goes against the idea of Romantic expression, or personal subjective sentiment. In fact, for Judd what mattered was the placement of these pieces, very deliberately sandwiched between walls, floor and ceiling. There is nothing inherently magical about any of these units. This is one of the very important contributions that Judd’s art makes. Its really about space as much as it is about object.” Anne Temkin on Donald Judd, MOMA.

Hollis Frampton, #3 (Painting Getty Tomb) 1958-62

In the US repetition is truth. And truth is found through repetition. It’s the circular logic of American understanding. It doesn’t really matter what the original premise might be. It’s the repetition that makes that original premise true. You can hear it in your minister’s exhortations. You can see it on CNBC’s OCTOBOX. You can order it from the Applebees menu. If one can reach the same conclusions each and every time – it’s proof positive that the thing repeated is true, the thing repeated is real. Truth is Fordism, a thousand points of light, and weapons of mass destruction. We repeat and repeat and repeat until the erotics of certainty gives birth to the real.

Glaser: Another problem. If you make so many canvases alike, how much can the eye be stimulated by so much repetition?
Stella: That really is a relative problem because obviously it strikes people different ways. I find, say, Milton Resnick as repetitive as I am, if not more so. The change in any given artist’s work from picture to picture isn’t that great. Take a Pollock show. You may have a span of 10 years, but you could break it down to three or four things he’s done. In any given period of an artist, when he’s working on a particular interest or problem, the paintings tend to look a lot alike. It’s hard to find anyone who isn’t like that. It seems to be the natural situation. And everyone finds some things more boring to look at than others.
Frank Stella in conversation with Bruce Glaser and Don Judd, 1966.

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