On Abstract Art

“It’s like, they don’t care about drawing,” said Brielle, the art student. “And I like to draw, but I think I’m already better than the teachers. I’m not bragging, I’m just—you know—complaining.”

“An artist I know,” Mr. Magundi remarked, “once told me that Picasso spent the first sixteen years of his life learning to draw better than Rembrandt, and the rest of his life learning to draw like a six-year-old. Many people who derided his art never knew how perfect his technique was: he could paint exactly what he set out to paint, and what was on the canvas was exactly what he meant to be on the canvas. But far worse are the artists who think they appreciate Picasso, and yet have no idea how perfect his technique was. There’s a great difference between an artist like Picasso or Mondrian, who painted abstractions because he could paint anything, and an artist of today who scrawls ‘AIDS is bad’ on a canvas because he can paint nothing else. Picasso and Mondrian we justly call geniuses; the AIDS-is-bad artist seems more like a fraud to me.”

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