Pearls from artists* # 379November 20, 2019
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Elaine’s and Bill’s [de Kooning] relationship involved a continual exchange of ideas that wasn’t restricted to conversations with friends. In the quiet of their studio when they were finally alone, they’d climb into bed and Elaine would read to Bill. Faulkner was a favorite. She also read Ambrose Bierce’s Civil War tales. And she would read Kierkegaard. That nineteenth-century father of Existentialism wrote with great passion about the essential solitude and uncertainty of the human struggle. They were words of consolation for Bill and Elaine who, though confident in their paths as artists, could not have been free of the nagging fear that they might spend their lives looking and never find what they sought in their work. Kierkegaard seemed to say that it didn’t matter, that it was striving that counted, and he described the need to reconcile oneself to the unknowable that was man’s fate. The artist, he said, had a crucial role to play in that regard. Like a religious figure who was an envoy from a realm most people could not access, the artist through his or her work revealed pure spirit so that men mired in the bitter reality of daily life might find the strength to continue.
Mary Gabriel in Ninth Street Women
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