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Art Me Up: Q&A with The Masters

I know that many of us tend to run out of steam around this time of year, myself included, so I did the only thing I could do: I dusted off my time machine and invited a bunch of artists for an impromptu discussion on art. Happy holidays!


OK guys, in your opinion, what does an artist do?


Kazimir Malevich: With the most primitive means the artist creates something which the most ingenious and efficient technology will never be able to create.

Henry Moore: There’s no retirement for an artist, it’s your way of living so there’s no end to it.

Paul Cézanne: Don’t be an art critic, but paint: there lies salvation.

Andy Warhol: Why do people think artists are special? It’s just another job.


That’s great. Tell us a bit more about why or how you make art. Any advice for the rest of us?


Leonardo da Vinci: Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigors of the mind.

Francis Bacon: The creative process is a cocktail of instinct, skill, culture and a highly creative feverishness. It is not like a drug; it is a particular state when everything happens very quickly, a mixture of consciousness and unconsciousness, of fear and pleasure; it’s a little like making love, the physical act of love.

Chuck Close: I’ve always thought that problem solving is highly overrated and that problem creation is far more interesting.

Salvador Dalí: You have to systematically create confusion, it sets creativity free. Everything that is contradictory creates life.


Wow, those are some pretty powerful words. What motivates you to work?


Chuck Close: Inspiration is highly overrated. If you sit around and wait for the clouds to part, it’s not liable to ever happen. More often than not, work is salvation.

Paul Cézanne: A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.

Salvador Dalí: Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.


Why did you guys become artists?


Francis Bacon: I should have been, I don’t know, a con-man, a robber or a prostitute. But it was vanity that made me choose painting, vanity and chance.

Michelangelo: If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.

Pablo Picasso: Painting is stronger than me, it makes me do its bidding.

Marc Chagall: My hands were too soft.. I had to find some special occupation, some kind of work that would not force me to turn away from the sky and the stars, that would allow me to discover the meaning of life.


Tell us about your work as briefly as possible.


Cindy Sherman: The work is what it is and hopefully it’s seen as feminist work, or feminist-advised work, but I’m not going to go around espousing theoretical bullshit about feminist stuff.

Andy Warhol: Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.

Jackson Pollock: Every good painter paints what he is.

Salvador Dalí: When I paint, the sea roars. The others splash about in the bath.

Marcel Duchamp: I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.

Marc Chagall: I am out to introduce a psychic shock into my painting, one that is always motivated by pictorial reasoning: that is to say, a fourth dimension.


Man, my brain is hard at work trying to process all this. Any last words for us before I zap you back to your century?


Vincent van Gogh: I certainly hope to sell in the course of time, but I think I shall be able to influence it most effectively by working steadily on, and that at the present moment making desperate efforts to force the work I am doing now upon the public would be pretty useless.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: In our time there are many artists who do something because it is new… they see their value and their justification in this newness. They are deceiving themselves… novelty is seldom the essential. This has to do with one thing only… making a subject better from its intrinsic nature.

Thanks guys! Enjoy the holidays and keep on painting. Vinny, I think you’ll be all right!

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