Thursday, November 13, 2008
by Raymie Iadevaia
"The greatest form of art is simply getting people to understand or appreciate art," the painter said. Now that he had hijacked the stage, he had the full attention of everyone at the benefit. The tuxedos and gowns stared at him.
And he wasn't nervous. Not at all. This was what they had been waiting for, this is what he had been preparing for.
"If one was to ask the average American citizen who some of the best painters were, most would list Picasso as one. Ask them why and they’d ask for multiple choice. It’s a terrible crime to let people slide between knowing and understanding. Appreciation is a dead art form, I suppose."
A man coughed. The painter pointed at him and the man was immediately silent. The painter shrugged and continued.
"Art critics, of any medium, and actual artists are radically different. It’s not as if one could compare college professors and college students. Sure, they're able to share the same institution, but never are they allowed to be condemned to exposure in the same light. It would be downright silly to compare them, and yet, art critics feel as if they are in step with artists."
A woman stood up as if to defend herself as an art critic.
"You're not," the painter said, staring the woman down. "I can't believe I have to tell you this, but I assure you, you're not," the painter repeated. He spoke to the crowd once again.
"Art is about personal impression, and if we actually consider this, art critics should be out of jobs. They are paid to tell the mass population, which I include myself in, what is good, what is bad, what is contemporary or hip, what is magnificent, what is radical, what is truth. And I mean, my god, how spitefully unoriginal."
No one was drinking the punch. A cigarette was floating between the ice cubes. Nobody noticed. Everyone was watching the painter.
"Art critics are the mailmen of love letters. They can certainly deliver them, but they surely didn't write them. This, I suppose, is the great injustice of art."
Marilyn slipped in the back door. She stood by the bathroom, next to the waiters. She noticed tears streaming down one the cheeks of a tall waiter with a thin mustache.
"So, if I may repeat myself, the audience will always listen, but the promising question is if they will understand. Art critics can openly hate everything and they will still be paid. To publicly conjure up some meandering insight is easy for them, but applying it as interpretation is the harder part of the job, and I’m sure they would rather put it off as fact."
Marilyn was pushed out of the way. A busboy stormed his way into the bathroom. He had dropped acid during appetizers and was terrified of the talking beard on stage. The busboy hid under the sink for the rest of the night.
"Art critics will present their opinions as matter-of-facts, which is what they are paid to do. And it's those who realize the harsh and unbridled nature of art that will do it justice absolute. But it will never be a critic. It'll be someone with a tool in their hand made for creating, not destroying. Burn this world before you build it again, you think. And art critics think they know better than the artist," the painer said with a scoff and roll of his head.
"If John F. Kennedy was shot in this very room, at least one art critic would criticize Lee Harvey Oswald for his form," the painter said with a laugh. "And that is it for me this evening. My canvas is dry and my mouth is worse. May some angel stab you through the heart, so that you may know mercy. Good night and thank you for your time."
The art critics were stunned. They stood dumbfounded. But the rest of the hall erupted into cheers; loud, delerious, unruly, glorious cheers. And, for once, it was deafening and the art critics had nothing to say.