Friday, November 22, 2013

What He Said

I adore being a reader because so often I stumble upon the perfect words for ideas that are only half-discerned inside my own mind. This quote comes from a interview with photographer Walker Evans who is describing the tensions between being an Andover prep school grad, Parisian ex-pat in the 1920s and tenant farmer advocate in the 1930s.

"It is still confusing to me, because I find that I am at heart an aristocrat, if there is such a thing. I do believe in aristocracy. But if I examine it very carefully, I find that it is based on money that is almost always stolen. You do not amass a fortune without ruining a lot of other people. And yet it has produced a cultural distinction. Aristocracy is unjust socially. I have to reconcile myself to this dichotomy and this schizophrenia.

I am in love with civilization. I feel that art is aristocratic, and an artist is an aristocrat. It is economically and socially impossible to be an artist unless you have a tremendous amount of strength. Great artists have been very poor to being with, and they have had the guts and the strength to get through that. Before Picasso became a multimillionaire he painted furniture on the wall to pretend that he had some. Many a great artist has died young and not been able to survive. That includes Mozart and Modigliania and many others."

(Ferris, William. "The Storied South: Voices of Writers and Artists", pg. 182)