PicassoI completely agree with your characterization of me, Jacopo; and with your candid assessment of yourself as well. And, as you say, we two are not unusual among successful artists. But I think that our behaviour – well, mine at least; I won't try to speak for you – is more about living life fully than it is about what we have chosen to pursue as a career. Yes, I pushed my way through the crowds in order to join the parade rather than to simply watch it go by. I have tried to live fully – my ex-wives might say, too fully (laughter around the table) – I see this as my job, my obligation to my own life, as short as it has been. An artist, or anyone genuinely involved in any meaningful pursuit for that matter, must strive to declare "I am" with all the force and authenticity he or she can summon. The result of this effort is sometimes a connection with others who struggle with their own "I am." This connection begins a conversation, and that, my friends, is a beautiful accomplishment.
I shouted out the fact of my existence loudly enough that others began to listen, and to look at my art. I connected with those people. They asked questions, and looked for the answers in my work, and even sometimes in my words. We began a conversation, and it continues to this day, as it does with your work, Jacopo. My god, think of all the people who have "talked" with you in that one building alone – San Rocco. It staggers me each time I think about it.
So ... to get back to what we were discussing ... it is my job to do what I can to be and to declare who I am. This I have tried to do. But it has not been my job to keep a checklist of those over whom I have stepped in order to improve my ranking as a tennis player would. That part of the conversation is among others. Think of me as a pebble dropped into a pool. My job is at the centre. As waves of "conversation" broaden and roll away, my impact seems to get bigger, but those waves near the shore of the pool are far from me, and often beyond my hearing. I am still the pebble at the centre.
To take this analogy a bit further, one might imagine that artists are the drops of rain in a storm that passes over a lake. The thousands of circles of waves expand, collide and intersect, but each artist can only be one drop of rain, always at the centre.
Oof. Forgive me. I am becoming far too metaphysical, and I begin to wander. Parades! Pebbles! Raindrops! Must be the cigar smoke making me dizzy. More coffee! (general laughter)