THE BLOG
01/06/2014 09:24 am ET Updated Mar 08, 2014

6 Artists on Decisive Moments

Six acclaimed artists reveal a decisive moment in their life -- a strong personal experience which became crucial in their development, and in shaping their work as artists.

The German artist Jonathan Meese (b.1970) tells the story of how his life as an artist began on his 22nd birthday, when he asked his mother to buy him his first drawing materials.

American video artist Bill Viola (b.1951) fell to the bottom of a lake when he was six years old, and discovered a place which seemed like paradise, and caused him to realize that "the real things are under the surface." This was the beginning of Violas fascination with water.

American photographer Leigh Ledare (b.1976) talks about the Christmas he returned home to find his mother at the front door "entirely naked." It was his mothers late life sex rebellion which began the eight year-long photographic project "Pretend You're Actually Alive" (2000-2008).

Finnish photographer Elina Brotherus (b.1972) tells the story behind the photograph "Epilogue" (1999) which was the result of a break up. The photograph had to be done right away, capturing "the decisive moment" she says.

"My mother overturned my paint box and threw everything and said that if you want to paint, don't come back home!" Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (b.1929) explains how she fell out with her parents, who wanted her to get married, rather than spend her life painting.

The Swiss video artist Pipilotti Rist (b.1962) tells the story of how she got angry with a guy and felt like smashing his car, but in stead chose to turn the destructive feeling into something creative -- and created one of her most famous videos: "Ever is over all" (1997)