Monday, December 10, 2007
Art, as I saw it one day when I helped hang a National Academy show while I was a student there, was about cows. In those days, early in the twenties, there were many cow paintings. More than that, the cows always stood knee-deep in purple shadows. For the life of me I never learned to see purple where there was no purple -- and I detested cows. I was frankly distressed at the prospects for me as an artist.
But there came a time when I stopped painting, stopped in order to evaluate all these doubts. If I couldn't see purple where there was no purple--I wouldn't use it. If I didn't like cows, I wouldn't paint them. What then was I to paint? Slowly I found that I must paint those things that were meaningful to me--that I could honestly paint in the shapes and colors I felt belonged to them. What shall I paint? Stories.
- Ben Shahn