Monthly Archives: December 2015

Martin Gayford, Art Critic

“ One of the most remarkable aspects of Picasso’s work is the way that it was documented. Every single painting was photographed, dated by the day it was done, and included in a catalogue raissonnée published by the Parisian writer and editor, Christian Zervos. Eventually there were 33 volumes. Hockney, who has described them as “a gigantic diary, the most extraordinary diary ever made”, has them all. “If he did three things on one day,” he tells me, “they’re number one, two, three, so you know what he did in the morning and in the afternoon. It’s fantastic. I’ve sat down and looked through the whole thing from beginning to end three times. That takes some doing, but it’s a fantastic experience. It doesn’t bore you.”

This is one way in which Hockney has maintained a close, posthumous relationship with Picasso. Early on, the Spaniard’s abrupt changes of style had licensed Hockney to do the same. One of the aspects of both artists that confuses commentators is their stylistic shape-shifting. Lesser artists, Hockney wrote in 1976, can get trapped in a way of working. Picasso didn’t let that happen, he had the courage to say, “I’ll quit this!”

“When you stop doing something it doesn’t mean you are rejecting the previous work,” says Hockney. “That’s the mistake; it’s not rejecting it, it’s saying, ‘I have exploited it enough now and I wish to take a look at another corner.’”

Martin Gayford



Francis Bacon


“ Through Francis, I got to know some of the leading artists of the Sixties and Seventies and was privy to his often very bitchy assessments of their personalities and talents.

He was particularly vituperative about David Hockney.

When I first met Francis, a magazine had just photographed Hockney like a film star in a gold lamé jacket and he felt this success was undeserved.

‘His paintings may be pretty, but when you look at them, there’s nothing really there,’ he said.

When I tried to argue otherwise, he dismissed my taste as ‘superficial’ and made no attempt to disguise his contempt for Hockney whenever they met in person.

We were once lunching at the same restaurant in Paris when Hockney came over to kiss Francis affectionately on both cheeks. As he moved on, Francis took out a handkerchief and made an elaborate show of wiping his face.

He was rather fonder of Lucian Freud, who often clowned around for him. One of Lucian’s favourite turns was to look at a restaurant bill and pretend to faint, falling sideways like Charlie Chaplin.

Francis would chuckle and write out a cheque, but in private he could be outrageously rude about Lucian.

‘He once tried to be homo-sexual,’ Francis said. ‘Or at least that’s what he told me, but I’m afraid that Lucian has what’s called the smallest c**k in England, and of course you can’t go far in the queer world with that.’ “

Michael Peppiatt


“Zero Circle” by Rumi

Be helpless, dumbfounded,

Unable to say yes or no.

Then a stretcher will come from grace

To gather us up.


We are too dull-eyed to see that beauty.

If we say we can, we’re lying.

If we say No, we don’t see it,

That No will behead us

And shut tight our window onto spirit.


So let us rather not be sure of anything,

Beside ourselves, and only that, so

Miraculous beings come running to help.

Crazed, lying in a zero circle, mute,

We shall be saying finally,

With tremendous eloquence, Lead us.

When we have totally surrendered to that beauty,

We shall be a mighty kindness.


Can Beauty Save the World? by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Dostoyevsky once let drop the enigmatic phrase: “Beauty will save the world.” What does this mean? For a long time it used to seem to me that this was a mere phrase. Just how could such a thing be possible? When had it ever happened in the bloodthirsty course of history that beauty had saved anyone from anything? Beauty had provided embellishment certainly, given uplift—but whom had it ever saved? However, there is a special quality in the essence of beauty, a special quality in the status of art: the conviction carried by a genuine work of art is absolutely indisputable and tames even the strongly opposed heart. One can construct a political speech, an assertive journalistic polemic, a program for organizing society, a philosophical system, so that in appearance it is smooth, well structured, and yet it is built upon a mistake, a lie; and the hidden element, the distortion, will not immediately become visible. And a speech, or a journalistic essay, or a program in rebuttal, or a different philosophical structure can be counterposed to the first—and it will seem just as well constructed and as smooth, and everything will seem to fit. And therefore one has faith in them—yet one has no faith. It is vain to affirm that which the heart does not confirm. In contrast, a work of art bears within itself its own confirmation: concepts which are manufactured out of whole cloth or overstrained will not stand up to being tested in images, will somehow fall apart and turn out to be sickly and pallid and convincing to no one. Works steeped in truth and presenting it to us vividly alive will take hold of us, will attract us to themselves with great power- and no one, ever, even in a later age, will presume to negate them. And so perhaps that old trinity of Truth and Good and Beauty is not just the formal outworn formula it used to seem to us during our heady, materialistic youth. If the crests of these three trees join together, as the investigators and explorers used to affirm, and if the too obvious, too straight branches of Truth and Good are crushed or amputated and cannot reach the light—yet perhaps the whimsical, unpredictable, unexpected branches of Beauty will make their way through and soar up to that very place and in this way perform the work of all three. And in that case it was not a slip of the tongue for Dostoyevsky to say that “Beauty will save the world,” but a prophecy. After all, he was given the gift of seeing much, he was extraordinarily illumined. And consequently perhaps art, literature, can in actual fact help the world of today.



Thomas Merton


“I have learned … to look back into the world with greater compassion, seeing those in it not as alien to myself, not as peculiar and deluded strangers, but as identified with myself. In freeing myself from their delusions and preoccupations I have identified myself, nonetheless, with their struggles and their blind, desperate hope of happiness. But precisely because I am identified with them, I must refuse all the more definitively to make their delusions my own. I must refuse their ideology of matter, power, quantity, movement, activism and force. I reject this because I see it to be the source and expression of the spiritual hell which man has made of his world: the hell which has burst into flame in two total wars of incredible horror, the hell of spiritual emptiness and sub-human fury which has resulted in crimes like Auschwitz or Hiroshima. This I can and must reject with all the power of my being. This all sane men seek to reject. But the question is: how can one sincerely reject the effect if he continues to embrace the cause?…. The monastery is not an “escape from the world.” On the contrary, by being in the monastery I take my true part in all the struggles and sufferings of the world. To adopt a life that is essentially non-assertive, nonviolent, a life of humility and peace is in itself a statement of one’s position. But each one in such a life can, by the personal modality of his decision, give his whole life a special orientation. It is my intention to make my entire life a rejection of, a protest against the crimes and injustices of war and political tyranny which threaten to destroy the whole race of man and the world with him. By my monastic life and vows I am saying No to all the concentration camps, the aerial bombardments, the staged political trials, the judicial murders, the racial injustices, the economic tyrannies, and the whole socio-economic apparatus which seems geared for nothing but global destruction in spite of all its fair words in favor of peace. I make monastic silence a protest against the lies of politicians, propagandists and agitators, and when I speak it is to deny that my faith and my Church can ever seriously be aligned with these forces of injustice and destruction.”

Walt Whitman


Poets to come! orators, singers, musicians to come! Not to-day is to justify me and answer what I am for, But you, a new brood, native, athletic, continental, greater than before known, Arouse! for you must justify me.

I myself but write one or two indicative words for the future, I but advance a moment only to wheel and hurry back in the darkness.

I am a man who, sauntering along without fully stopping, turns a casual look upon you and then averts his face, Leaving it to you to prove and define it, Expecting the main things from you.


One’s-self I sing, a simple separate person, Yet utter the word Democratic, the word En-Masse.

Of physiology from top to toe I sing, Not physiognomy alone nor brain alone is worthy for the Muse, I say the Form complete is worthier far, The Female equally with the Male I sing.

Of Life immense in passion, pulse, and power, Cheerful, for freest action form’d under the laws divine, The Modern Man I sing.


What is past is beyond help.

What is to come is not yet lost.


 Chi Wen Tzu always thought three times before taking action.

Twice would have been quite enough


 The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.


 The inside always manifests itself on the outside.


 I hear and forget. I see and remember. I do and I understand.


 When good is in danger, only a coward would not defend it.


 You can deprive an army of its commanders, but you can never deprive a man of his will.


 Honour your Father and Mother. Be noble in your work. Be loyal and honest to your friends. Never, and nowhere, can these laws be broken.


 It is difficult not to complain when one is poor, but easy to be humble when rich.


 Be correct yourself, before you correct others.


 A great man is hard on himself. A small man is hard on others.


 I have seen people drown and burn, but I have never seen anyone harmed by doing what is right.


 The man who, in the view of gain thinks of righteousness, who in the view of danger is prepared to give up his life, and who does not forget an old agreement however far back it extends, such a man may be reckoned a complete man.


 The gentleman first practices what he preaches and then preaches what he practices.


 Do not worry if others do not understand you. Worry if you do not understand them.


 If I give a student one corner of a subject and he cannot find the other three, the lesson is not worth teaching.


 Going too far is as wrong as falling short.


 In ascent or descent there is no fixed rule, except that one must do no evil.


In advance or retreat no sustained perseverance avails, except that one must not depart from one’s nature. The superior man fosters his character and labours at his tasks in order to do everything at the right time. Therefore he makes no mistakes.


If there be righteousness in the heart,

There will be beauty in the character.

If there is beauty in the character,

There will be harmony in the home.

If there is harmony in the home,

There will be order in the nation.

When there is order in the nation,

There will be peace in the world


An inconvenience is an unrecognized opportunity.


 Only one who bursts with enthusiasm do I instruct;

Only one who bubbles with excitement do I enlighten.

If I hold up one corner and you do not come back to me

With the other three,

I do not continue the lesson.


 Zigong asked: ” Is there any single word that could guide one’s entire life? ” The master replied: ” Should it nor be reciprocity? What you do not wish for yourself, not do to others.”


The more a man knows, the more he forgives.


By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.


To know is to recognize what you understand and what you do not understand


Only the very knowledgeable and the very ignorant do not shift their ground


” Love After Love.”

“Love After Love”
by Derek Walcott

The time will come
When, with elation,
You will greet yourself arriving
At your own door, in your own mirror,
And each will smile at the other’s welcome,

And say, sit here, Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
To itself, to the stranger who has loved you

All your life, whom you ignored
For another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the letters from the bookshelf,

The photographs, the desperate notes,
Peel your image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.