Monday, October 15, 2012

Françoise Gilot: "Art is not a communicable disease"

I was flipping through a pile of old Vogue magazines this weekend, and came across a wonderful article about Françoise Gilot, former mistress of Pablo Picasso and prolific painter in her own right. She's 90 years old, lives in Manhattan, and continues to paint every day. The article is wonderful, and you can read the full text over at Vogue: Life After Picasso: Françoise Gilot

One quote made me really laugh:

“Art is not a communicable disease,” she says when I ask about Picasso's influence on her. “It's not like TB. You have it or you don't. And if you have it, you have to develop it yourself. I was interested in my work.”

Now I don't necessarily believe in the all-or-nothing artistic talent. I think we all have an innate sense of creativity, but some of us just have to cultivate it (and work harder at it) more than others. People tell me I'm creative, but I scoff at their compliment and lament that I can't draw anything better than stick figures. Us scientist don't think of ourselves in the same realm as those tortured artists, but we really have more in common than you think. Late nights agonizing over a composition (a painter's canvas or a researcher's manuscript)? The drive to push boundaries and delve into the unknown? Approaching things from a new perspective? Scientists and artists share all these qualities, and both must cultivate their creative talents. We scientists just don't usually think of it that way.

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