They interpret the world around us and imagine things outside the box. What is the connection between them and their creative output and society? Is it just to take curtain calls and sign autographs or is there something more? Picasso asked the question, “What do you think an artist is? An imbecile who only has eyes if he’s a painter, ears if he’s a musician, or a lyre in every chamber of his heart if he’s a poet – or even, if he’s a boxer, only some muscles? Quite the contrary, he is at the same time a political being constantly alert to the horrifying, passionate or pleasing events in the world, shaping himself completely in their image. How is it possible to be uninterested in other men and by virtue of what cold nonchalance can you detach yourself from the life that they supply so copiously? No, painting is not made to decorate apartments. It’s an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy.”
Wallace Shawn is an award-winning playwright and noted stage and screen actor. He starred in the film My Dinner with Andre. He is the author of Essays and Night Thoughts.