April 28, 2004

Self-Awareness Watch

"In art the mass of people no longer seek consolation and exaltation, but those who are refined, rich, unoccupied, who are distillers of quintessences, seek what is new, strange, original, extravagant, scandalous. I myself, since Cubism and before, have satisfied these masters and critics with all the changing oddities which have passed through my head, and the less they understand me, the more they admired me. By amusing myself with all these games, with all these absurdities, puzzles, rebuses, arabesques, I became famous and that very quickly. And fame for a painter means sales, gains, fortune, riches. And today, as you know, I am celebrated, I am rich. But when I am alone with myself, I have not the courage to think of myself as an artist in the great and ancient sense of the term. Giotto, Titian, Rembrandt, were great painters. I am only a public entertainer who has understood his times and exploited them as best he could the imbecility, the vanity, the cupidity of his contemporaries. Mine is a bitter confession, more painful than it may appear, but it has the merit of being sincere."

--Pablo Picasso, Jardin des Arts (March 1964), trans.

I wonder what Picasso would make of faux contemporary "artists" like John Currin?

Not much, I'd wager. Likely he'd put such work in the prima facie fraudster category rapidly indeed.

And, unlike many contemporary artists today hustling about 10th Avenue like midtown dealmakers--at least Picasso had the integrity to engage in some severely honest navel gazing.

I doubt many so-called artists today have either the integrity or range to rustle up the emotional and intellectual resources necessary to pursue such a rigorous self-appraisal.

But why spoil the fun when you can instead be noshing down at the canteen catching a glimpse of Anna Wintour and such?

Posted by Gregory at April 28, 2004 08:48 AM
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