You might be familiar with this quotation from the master. What’s usually shared is only the first part:
We all know that art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth,
Certainly this is the magic of any real work of art, regardless whether it’s painting, sculpture, poetry, prose, music, filmmaking, etc. The artist brings together insight and techniques to communicate something that is usually impossible to communicate in direct statement. Typically, this is because the “truth” of anything of significance is more complex and multi-layered, and these insights on a broader and deeper story are what we can see and feel in the presence of great art.
Or can we?
This is where the ending of the sentence comes in, the one that’s often left off.
at least the truth that is given us to understand.
The “us” in this statement is, of course, the artist, who must have some understanding worth sharing. But this “us” is also “us,” the viewers, the audience, those of us attempting to perceive the artist’s truth. Lived experience is sometimes the only preparation needed, but we can all look to learning experiences we’ve had that developed a more ready foundation to realize the understandings communicated in great art.
And when we have this greater foundation and we can see and feel more, we are more fully human. This is the benefit of a real education and the crime of inflicted education, schooling that isn’t wholly focused on allowing each individual to develop their own richer understandings.
Let’s keep the pursuit of this truth deep in our hearts and the front of our minds as we use what we know works in classrooms: giving students meaningful choices in the development of their education as we support their increasingly sophisticated competence in a culture of mutual respect and growth.
Thanks, Picasso and all the masters who have enhanced our lives.
Political corollary: Interesting that some leaders in my home country today are having difficulty understanding that great work of political art: The US Constitution, and the framers’ emphasis that no one is above the law. Perhaps some missed the lesson plan distinguishing between art and propaganda? Real, rich and relevant education matters.
Quote from a 1923 interview with Pablo Picasso in the New York City periodical “The Arts: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine Covering All Phases of Ancient and Modern Art” as evidenced by The Quote Investigator. Picasso Image from Wikimedia Commons