Tag Archives: picasso

Wooing Art, Success and Lady Luck

I grew up with Hammett, Picasso and Cagney. Throw in Beethoven, Ellington and Buddy Holly. The list goes on, from Bogart, Raft and Robinson to Cezanne, Matisse and even Pater Max. Plenty of examples of artists with rare talents, works of brilliance, and all with varying degrees of success.

You can't lose if you don't play.

You can’t lose if you don’t play.

How would they make their way today, if they made it all? You can’t account for luck, fortune, kismet—however you want to tag it, so I’ll skip that. What I’m spinning on is approach. I’m less than a month out from launching my first book, and the promotion side is overwhelming. How would Chandler or Hammett play it today? How would any of the Black Mask boys?

Can’t say I have an easy time transplanting these guys into another era. Except for his writing, Chandler came off like an SOB unfit for any setting. Would he join the crowded field of indie authors? Would you find him going exclusive with KDP Select and running book giveaways on GoodReads, etc?

Hard to picture Picasso giving away pictures. A two-for-one sale on signed lithographs? Are you kidding? Or Mozart plugging his latest divertissement MP3 on Facebook, linking back to his website where you can sample movements from his latest symphony? Would Buster Keaton start up his own YouTube channel?

Perhaps the oddest fantasy that springs forth is Charlie Chaplin. World famous, wildly successful, a man of his day who kept at his art form for decades without significantly changing. But Chaplin was also a social butterfly, a guy you could easily imagine rubbing internet shoulders on every social platform imaginable.

There’s no one way to succeed, and thousands more ways to flop. All I can do is put it into perspective. Those great ones who inspired me found their own way somehow. They did what they did, mostly on their own terms, and their success stories are as unique as their art. Maybe I can’t account for luck, but maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to discount it, either. Sure.

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Picasso in Heaven

Three Musicians, 1921

Three Musicians, 1921

If there’s a heaven, I wonder if it might be done up in oils. Or maybe gouache or watercolors. I wonder if Picasso holds court in some outdoor café where they serve bottomless, eternal cups of espresso.

I can see Mr. Picasso talking and laughing as he sips his brew. Getting reacquainted with Matisse and debating artistic principles with Miro. Imagine him paying tribute to Leonardo and Rembrandt, cajoling with the likes of Hemmingway and Gertrude Stein, exchanging critiques with Velazquez and Van Gogh.

I can think up dozens of questions for the master. Hundreds. But there’d be no need. I wouldn’t say a word. I would simply relish the company, the atmosphere, the dialogue. I’d rest my face on my palm and drink it all in, along with my demitasse.

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