Wonderful Interview in Salon with the Surrealist painter Dorothea Tanning. Some great bits:
"Q: You’ve lived through the Depression and several wars. What is the role of art in such times?
"A: Art has always been the raft onto which we climb to save our sanity. I don’t see a different purpose for it now."
"Q: As you mentioned, there was a lot of shock value in the work of the dadaists and the surrealists that you fell in with. Was that somehow different?
"A: In its beginning, surrealism was an electric time with all the arts liberating themselves from their Snow White spell. There is a value in shaking people up, meaning those who have forgotten to think for themselves. Shock can be valuable as a protest. Like the dada fomenters, sitting there in the Cafe Voltaire in 1917 — their disgust with the world they lived in, its lethal war, its politics, its so-called rationales. Shock had value at that time. But ideas and innovation will always prevail without any deliberate effort to shock."
"Q: We live in an age when so many people seem to want to be artists of some kind. Why do you think that is? And what does it say about our culture?
"A: All these young hopefuls swarming the big city and getting nowhere fast; that’s such a sad thought. But if there has been a big surge in the number of people making art, it’s because our prosperity has released so many of us from need. It has allowed our creative impulses to test themselves without starving the body. Many people find joy in actually doing something the pragmatist would call useless."