Posted by: Shanna Germain | 07/14/2009

Pg. 105: Art is a Lie


Street brass band in Cologne. The young girl with braids was rocking the shit out of that horn. It was awesome. If she keeps playing, I wonder how good she’ll be at twenty, thirty, eighty?



  • Weather: Hot. Sunny. Sweaty.
  • Mileage: I walked through the biggest museum I’ve ever been in.
  • Food: Salad with tuna! Bruschetta! Bread and hummus! Three cheers!
  • Discovery: The fruit vendors on the main strip have great raspberries and these wild, small blueberry-type things.
  • Media: The final episode of Lost from Last season. Finally.
  • Worst Thing: All the gunfights in Lost. I mean… come on…
  • Best Thing: Seeing this Salvador Dali painting in real life.
  • Word of the Day: Ich spreche kein Deutsch. It means: I don’t speak German. It sounds like: Ick spreck-a-kine doytch.


I spent much of today at Museum Ludwig, the modern art museum that’s smack dab in the middle of downtown Cologne. According to Wiki, Ludwig boasts many things, including “works from PopArt, Abstract and Surrealism, and has one of the largest Picasso collections in Europe. It also features many works by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.”

For me, the Picasso collection was the most interesting and inspiring. Not just because it was Picasso, per se, but because the exhibition covered such a wide breadth and depth of his work, spanning his entire artistic life and showcasing all of the mediums he worked in, from painting and drawing to poetry and sculpture (I loved his more-than-life size piece, “Mother with Pram.”). In his early years, he was often sketching and drawing images that seemed to reflect reality more concretely, and then you could see him starting to break the rules, the way he began to play with forms and colors and shapes. In his final years of life, his paintings depict a dark sensuality and a visceral pleasure that seems missing from his earlier work (“The Melon Eaters,” for example, which I adored, but which I can’t find a picture of).

As one website put it, “Picassoโ€™s late work is distinct from his previous stylistic periods and moods. These works are marked by a dialectic between painting and drawing: “Wild” and intensely sensual paintings executed with masterly speed contrast with meticulously precise and detailed drawings.”


Picasso’s “Couple.”


I’m always interested in the progress of art and artists. Some artists make one great work — their “Mockingbird” if you will. Others make many great works, but they’re often similar to one another. I think especially of musicians here. Others make some flaws, some masterpieces, but they always try something new. Some artists, I think, get worse, especially in today’s culture where they are hard-pressed to make a living at their art.

And then there are those artists like Picasso — an artist who seemed to first learn the rules and then continue to break them over and over, in the name of art. At one point in time, Picasso said, “Art is not made to decorate rooms. It is an offensive weapon in the defense against the enemy.” I wonder if he always felt that way, or if it’s something he discovered through painting. And when I look at those later paintings — the ones that carry more joy and sensuality and pleasure of life than it should be possible to put on canvas, I wonder if he didn’t change his mind about art being a weapon, at the end. Or if perhaps, it was the enemy that changed instead.

I’ve been a writer forever, since I could hold a writing utensil, but I’ve been writing fiction with some semblance of dedication since 2001. Eight years. Which sometimes seems like such a long time (namely when I look at how little I’ve accomplished in those years). But mostly seems like such a short time. What will my work be like when I’m 40? (I know, it’s not that far from now, but that will mark ten years of writing “full-time.). What will it be like when I’m 60 or 80? In the last years of my life?

I don’t know. Thankfully. I can only hope that if I continue to move forward with dedication to the craft, that I will continue to grow and improve. That I will continue to realize my artistic truths, whatever they may be.

Far and fast, s.



Picasso’s, ร‰treinte, painted in 1972, the year before he died.


“Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.” ~Picasso



  1. ha..i love picasso..not his artworks exactly but him as an artist..mots people say ” oh picasso thats no art..i can paint a face with one eye on the forehead and one eye next to the mouth too!!”..what they dont know is (exactly how you wrote it) that picasso startet with learning the rules of his early years i painted totally perfect in a classic way..and then he paint this cubism stuff not because he couldnt paint different but because that was the way he wants to paint…

    i think the same about lady gaga..all people say “oh she is shit she only drags her voice through a computer..she cant sing for shit!”..which sounds like this:

    but people dont know that lady gaga has a very pretty pretty jazz/blues voice..which sounds live like this:

    she is a great singer..but just like picasso she choosed for herself that she wants to do other stuff…and that makes both great artists for me..:-)

  2. ps: when i first heared thatb song i understood ” poke her face” instead of “pokerface”…what would siegmund freud say about that?

    • LOL, Danielle about the “poke her face”… I think Freud would love that.

      And, yes, I love people who experiment and are willing to break all the rules for their art.

  3. My thoughts on how artists develop … speaking as a great and masterful artist, of course … ; )

    I think one needs to balance periods of intense effort and concentration with periods of letting go, stepping back, observing other art/artists/ the world. I think maybe in a way it’s like a conversation with the world, and one has to listen sometimes as well as talk.

    And then of course, there are some artists who are just lazy arses who sit about pontificating all day … hm, I had better go and pretend to do some work!

    I very much look forward to seeing how your work develops, S!


    • I like this way of thinking, A. At least, that’s how I often seem to work best — sponge off everything and everyone else for a while and then be creatively production all at once ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Speaking as an artist who can do many many things….. screw em all and just have fun with it. Which is probably not the best advice for a new artist just starting out cause gods know I pissed my art teacher off all the time going “Yeah but… that looks like crap, mine’s flashier…” ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Never could figure out how to color in the lines either. Stupid lines.

    • Ha, Bri! That cracked me up. Yeah, I can only imagine the hell you put your art teacher through. I feel for that persons, I really really do! ๐Ÿ˜›

      • She started it. “You do it this way because I said so and because it’s the -right- way”

        Me: “Umm… no. It’s art, there is no right way. You said so already. Calling yourself a liar?”

        Off to the principle’s office I go. *grumbles* Why they say things if they don’t mean them? Gets better though… for my final project of my first year (took 3 years of art in high school, 1 in college but technically that was art history) I painted 3 lines. Red, yellow, and blue. Called it “Ode to a Spectrum” since you know you can make any color with just those three… yeah, I failed. Bitch.

  5. Finally getting a chance to catch up here – I too like artists that take chances even if they don’t always result in something wonderful – be they writers or painters or photographers or musicians. I may like one of their “periods” more than others, but I’d never want them to stay the same just to stay the same.

    And I wonder sometimes what I’ll be writing when I’m older (and I’m closer to being older than you are – hehe).

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