• When Andy Warhol was a successful commercial artist, but wanted to become a successful fine artist, he asked Muriel Latow, a friend and interior decorator, for her advice. However, her advice was not free. She asked for $50, and Mr. Warhol wrote her a check for $50. She then asked what he loved most in the world. The answer came back: “Money.” Therefore, Ms. Latow advised him to paint money, and she also advised him to paint something that no one ever noticed because they were so familiar with it — “Something like a can of Campbell’s soup.” Mr. Warhol took her advice, and he remains famous as a pioneer of Pop Art.
• To become an artist requires a great amount of effort over a great period of time. While on the witness stand during an action he had instituted against the critic John Ruskin, James McNeill Whistler was asked how long it had taken him to produce a certain painting. When the lawyer for the defense heard that Mr. Whistler had produced the painting in two days, he asked him, “The labor of two days, then, is that for which you ask two hundred guineas?” Mr. Whistler replied, “No, I ask it for the knowledge of a lifetime.”
• As a young man, African-American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner taught at Clark University in Atlanta, Georgia. Bishop and Mrs. Joseph Crane Hartzell took an interest in Mr. Tanner and his works of art and held an exhibition of his paintings. Unfortunately, the people who attended the exhibition purchased none of the paintings. Therefore, the Hartzells bought every painting. This raised enough money for Mr. Tanner to go to Paris, France, and study painting at the Academie Julien.
• African-American artist Romare Bearden received money for attending his first year of college by working at a speakeasy during Prohibition. His job was collecting money from the waiters whose job was selling liquor. When the speakeasy was held up, the robber didn’t get much money because most of the money was in Mr. Bearden’s pants pockets. His boss was so happy that he gave Mr. Bearden a bonus — enough money to pay for his first year of college.
• When Japanese painter and printmaker Katsushika Hokusai went bankrupt, he worried about getting art supplies. Sometimes he walked 15 miles after dark to Edo, where he would buy his art supplies while trying to stay hidden from anyone to whom he owed money. Nevertheless, he was unimpressed by anyone who had lots of money. Sometimes, he would keep a wealthy art collector waiting while he picked fleas off his clothing.
• The young Pablo Picasso was in a junk shop one day when he came across a painting by Henri Rousseau and bought it. The junk dealer didn’t think much of the painting and thought Picasso was buying it only to paint over the canvas, and so Picasso was able to buy the painting for approximately a dollar. The painting, Portrait of a Woman, is on display at the Musée Picasso in Paris — it is worth mega-bucks.
• Sir David Wilkie sold his painting Chelsea Pensioners Reading the Gazette of the Battle of Waterloo for 1,000 guineas to the Duke of Wellington, who began to count out the banknotes. Sir David suggested that it might be easier to write out a draft on a banker, but the Duke of Wellington replied, “I don’t want my bankers to know that I have been such a d*mned fool as to give 1,000 guineas for a painting.”
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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