Pearls from artists* # 527
*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Vocation was originally a religious term. The word comes from the Latin vocatio, which means a summons, a call. To be a priest, a monk, or a nun is to accept a calling – a vocation. The sense of an imperative – of an activity that’s a necessity, an inevitability – remains very much part of the meaning of the word today. A creative vocation isn’t a job. It’s a calling, even if for most modern artists the summons is an inner necessity, not the call of some divine figure or force. Even an artist as determinedly secular as Picasso saw echoes of religious vocation in his experience as an artist. When his mistress Francoise Gilot, wondering at his concentration and stamina, asked him if when he was painting “it didn’t tire him to stand so long in one spot,” this was his response: “No. That’s why painters live so long. While I work, I leave my body outside the door, the way Moslems take off their shoes before entering the mosque.” For creative spirits the studio or stage – or wherever they do their work – is a place apart. They may recoil from describing this as a sacred space, but there’s no question that these spaces have a special significance.
Jed Perl in Authority and Freedom: A Defense of the Arts
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Pearls from artists* # 191
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
“Do you understand what this is? Jacob Kahn asked me, his strong voice rising. “Do you begin to understand what you are going to be doing to yourself? You understand now what Picasso did, yes? Even Picasso, the pagan, had to do this. At times there is no other way. Do you understand me, Asher Lev? This is not a toy. This is not a child scrawling on a wall. This is a tradition; it is a religion, Asher Lev. You are entering a religion called painting. It has its fanatics and rebels. And I will force you to master it. Do you hear me? No one will listen to what you have to say unless they are convinced you have mastered it. Only one who has mastered a tradition has a right to attempt to add to it or rebel against it. Do you understand me, Asher Lev?”
My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
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