The Practice of Art

Back in 2008, Malcolm Gladwell wrote a New Yorker article titled Late Bloomers: Why Do We Equate Genius with Precocity? In it, he writes:

A painting done by Picasso in his mid-twenties was worth…an average of four times as much as a painting done in his sixties. For Cézanne, the opposite was true. The paintings he created in his mid-sixties were valued fifteen times as highly as the paintings he created as a young man. The freshness, exuberance, and energy of youth did little for Cézanne. He was a late bloomer—and for some reason in our accounting of genius and creativity we have forgotten to make sense of the Cézannes of the world.

img_0205Years later, in Paris, in the Cézanne room at the stunningly beautiful Musee D’Orsay, I remembered the article. It took the artist practice. More, it took mentoring and seeking. It took years of experimentation. In the end he produced works that are now judged to be masterpieces, but he himself was sometimes  dissatisfied with them.

If Gladwell’s examination of genius and its realization means anything, it is that art will find meaning in its own way, in its own time. Much like architecture, in fact. When they built this train station, after all, no one could have foreseen that it would end up as a museum!


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