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the art of growing through copying

December 4, 2009

in life,talent

my family and i took in ashile gorky: a retrospective at the philadelphia museum of art this past weekend (there until january 2010 and well worth it).

aerial map from "aviation: evolution of forums under aerodynamic limitations"

as we wandered the many-roomed exhibition, what struck me was how gorky came into his own only after copying others. the early days of his career involved self-imposed apprenticeships of cezanne, picasso, and miró. once he’d devoured their technique, he veered off, expressing what he learned now through his own form and life experiences.

sounds like any career, doesn’t it?

the trick is to apprentice yourself to the masters.


p.s. something else struck me as i stood before two (out of 10) remaining murals gorky painted for the federal art project—a program of the works progress administration. during the worst possible financial crisis, the government clearly understood arts’ ability to create beauty where there is none and to elevate us during times of despair. i’d take that.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Roche December 4, 2009 at 1:35 pm

One of my fave phrases all time: Good poets borrow, but great poets steal.


fran December 4, 2009 at 3:06 pm

frank, love it. stolen from “talent borrows, genius steals” — oscar wilde, who is so quotable!



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