Opus 1. On Artist’s Beginnings

Koen Brams

Whenever we set out to tackle an artist’s oeuvre we generally try to trace the ‘decisive moments’ – the turning points, the interruptions, the final work. There is one ‘key moment’, however, that seems virtually to guarantee the ultimate understanding of the oeuvre – its beginning, its Opus 1. We like to think that in that ‘first’ work lies the germ of everything that follows, that everything can be distilled from it and explained by it. But that beginning is also the most enigmatic and difficult moment to decipher. How can it happen that a moment ago there was ‘nothing’, then suddenly ‘something’ has come into being? How could this or that individual ‘suddenly’ hatch into an artist? How do all these fascinating oeuvres, with their unique and inexchangeable characteristics, emerge out of thin air, as it were? The book Opus 1. On Artist’s Beginnings brings together theoreticians, art historians and artists who have reflected upon the question of how one becomes an artist.