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Wednesday, 15 May 2013


Act 2, Scene 3

The narrative began with Act 1, scene 1 on April 10, 2013.
To access all scenes, scroll to blog archive at the bottom of the page.

Picasso
Before you begin, I must assume that you are an artist, but I am not sure just what you do.

Aitken
I’m a sculptor, I suppose, although not quite in any traditional sense. I’m working with all kinds of materials lately… well, Pablo, I think you might be a bit more easily interested in what I do. You experimented with a lot of non-traditional media, and that’s kind of what I do. Although that’s nothing new anymore, of course.


Picasso
But don’t sell Diego short (nodding with a smile in Velazquez’ direction). He has been magnificent in seeing the work at the Biennale, working with such open-minded intelligence to appreciate it all.


Velazquez, smiling

Ah yes, well I certainly am making the effort; although I won’t claim that I have understood the point of every exhibit I’ve seen.


Aitken
Sure – of course. I’ll show you some images of my work later. But what I was saying is that I really don’t know much about art before 1850, so David’s idea of a train of thought, or artistic inspiration stretching back through generations of artists … well, it’s not really like that for me. Not yet anyway. My train really only goes as far back as you Pablo, and Rodin.

Newkirk
I guess what shocked me most was that, even though Jen attended a special arts secondary school, then graduated from one of our country’s most prestigious art colleges, and is now a bright light in the Master of Fine Arts program at another of the best schools – even with all this background, Jen was never exposed to much art history at all, at least not to any before the Impressionist movement, roughly speaking. Is that a fair assessment, Jen?

Aitken
Well, yeah, I guess, but we did study everything after Impressionism really thoroughly.
I do feel a real connection to the more recent past though...


Newkirk
I would think that any feeling of connection with the deeper past will be more difficult for Jen, and presumably for many young artists, to identify with. I've been struggling with this a bit. Diego, I hope you won't be offended, but I sometimes wonder whether there is a case to be made that, for artists today anything before say, 1850 for the sake of argument, really is irrelevant. Is it simply an esoteric exercise to reach further back into history? AND ... and ... since artists now often seem to feel that curating is an extension of their practice, are young curators also in the dark about the Renaissance, for example? And finally, does it matter?

Holland
Don't you think that this may have a lot to do with maturity? (Aitken blushes and starts to laugh). No, no Jen. I don't mean that you are immature; you certainly are not. I mean that with the simple passage of time, a person's interests can broaden. Maybe your time has been too full so far, to read about older periods of art history, to spark your interest.

Velazquez
Please excuse me for asking, Senorita Holland (Holland interjects, "Valerie, please Diego"). Valerie then, thank you. Are you too an artist?

Holland
Oh. No, well I'm not a visual artist. I trained in classical ballet, and I have done some work in the theatre, so I can relate to the difficult life that artists often endure. But these discussions are really interesting, don't you think?

Picasso (before Velazquez can respond)
A dancer! I should have known; I am helpless in the presence of a beautiful ballerina.

Holland (smiling)
Pablo! Get your hand off my knee, you little rascal. Olga was with Ballet Russes I believe, wasn't she? (Picasso nods with a lecherous grin). And I'm sure that you have some fascinating tales to tell about your friendships with Diaghilev, and Cocteau, and Stravinsky and a long list of others. I'd love to talk to you about the sets you designed for example, but really, stop flirting, Pablo!

Picasso
Ah, well. I am the old dog who has trouble with new tricks, but I'll do my best to learn.

Velazquez
Behave yourself, Pablo. Please ... I'm still waiting to hear whether I am irrelevant. (laughter and protests around the table. The wine has arrived; Newkirk offers a toast to the distinguished guests, and Velazquez reciprocates with thanks for bringing together so many wonderful artists. Pleasurable murmurs and comments on the wine. There is a lull in conversation as everyone turns to the menu.

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Historically accurate anecdotes are especially welcome.