Monday, April 10, 2006

Is She Really This Small?

From Michael Schmidt, author of one of my favorite books, Lives of the Poets, in a lecture at St. Anza, Scotland's Poetry Festival:

The other anecdote puts Picasso in the frame with an American GI at the end of the Second World War. The soldier says he dislikes Picasso’s kind of art with its distortions and stylisations and dislocations. ‘What sort of art do you like?’ asked Picasso. The GI pulled out a photograph of his girlfriend and presented it to the artist, who gazed at it and asked, ‘Is she really this small?’ It is about the conventions we are prepared to accept, about conventions so ingrained that we do not recognise them as such; it is about becoming conscious of them, of what is conventional, and understanding why, and what that convention includes and excludes.

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