Pearls from artists* # 582

October 25, 2023

*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.

Strange, but the artist has never made a fuss about being denied those estimable virtues other men would not do without: intellectuality, good judgment, a knowledge of the world, and rational conduct. It may be charged, that he has even fostered the myth. In his intimate journals Vollard tells us that Degas feigned deafness to escape disputations and harangues concerning things he considered false and distasteful. If the speaker or subject changed, his hearing immediately improved. We must marvel at his wisdom since he must have only surmised what we know definitely today: tThat the constant repetition of falsehood is more convincing than the demonstration of truth. It is understandable, then, how the artist might actually cultivate this moronic appearance, this deafness, this inarticulateness, in an effort to evade the million irrelevancies which daily accumulate concerning his work. For, while the authority of the doctor or plumber is never questioned, everyone deems himself a good judge and an adequate arbiter of what a work of art should be and how it should be done.

Mark Rothko in The Artist’s Reality: Philosophies of Art, edited by Christopher Rothko

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