Monday, July 28, 2008


Henri chats to Emilie along the Rue de Rivoli.


Henri: You draw diagrams?

Emilie: For books, manuals, yes.

Henri: Art for instructional purposes.

Emilie: More instruction than art.

Henri: Do you ever paint just for pleasure?

Emilie: Sometimes. Recently I…

Henri: Yes?

Emilie: Oh, nothing.

Henri: Go on.

Emilie: Well, I painted a bison.

Henri: For…instructional purposes?

Emilie: The cave paintings at Altamira show how it’s done, to show what it was like, to capture the method and the dangers, of hunting. I was drawn to this first example of … an illustrated manual.

Henri: Nice.

Emilie: I don’t usually draw for pleasure.

Henri: Did you find, like Picasso, that after Altamira all is decadence?

Emilie: Picasso was given to overstatement.



It helps clarify our minds to explain why we do something. Henri may be following the kind of conversation that might occur in a film by Truffaut or Bresson. But his probing and encouragement suggest something is at the back of his mind. One wonders whether his recollection of Picasso’s remark was truly spontaneous or germinated as a subscript.


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