By their taste you will know them

By chance Picasso bumps into Robert Delaunay, and he gives the password—“Cézanne.” Delaunay responds and now they are on the same wavelength, co-conspirators of art. But then Picasso offers the secret handshake—“the late bathers”—and Delaunay doesn’t get it. He prefers the landscapes. So Picasso politely says goodbye and goes to join his friend Braque at a corner table. Despite all the mediations of the art world—books and magazines, university education, over abundant theory, the internet—the same kinds of distinction should apply. Those who really know are always in a minority, and they recognize each other. Enthusiasms for one artist or another are just the visible signs of affinity, and very necessary. If you don’t love art and if you don’t get caught up in the work that strikes you then you’re in the wrong business anyway, and letting your enthusiasms show is a natural way to attract colleagues and allies. It might sound silly to say that “late Frank Stella” is the secret sign of advanced taste—but so it is. The incongruity is that we think of a true coterie as about five people, but all art is a mass phenomenon today.

Pablo Picasso, Three Women 1908-09

Pablo Picasso, Three Women 1908-09

Frank Stella, K56 (large version) 2-013

Frank Stella, K56 (large version) 2013

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One Response to By their taste you will know them

  1. Daniel Laskarin says:

    Thanks Rob,
    I’m not sure about “advanced taste” but it’s a treat to see this work. I’m pretty skeptical about things these days, but the Stella is a real inspiration.

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