[PW] Quote: "No one paints a tree because..."

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
Tue Feb 7 09:50:31 PST 2017


Nichael Cramer wrote:
> I would appreciate help in finding the exact wording of, and source for, the
> following,
>
>   "No one paints a tree because he seen a tree.  He paints a tree because he
> has seen a painting of a tree."

It is possible that the quotation was created as a description of the
thoughts of André Malraux, i.e., not a direct quotation from Malraux.

Here is a close match in a circa 1979 book.

Year: 1979
Title: The Beethoven Quartets
Author: Joseph Kerman
Quote Page 11
Database: Google Books; snippet view; data may be inaccurate and
should be verified with hardcopy

https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0393009092

[Begin extracted text]
As Malraux has observed, an artist paints a picture not because he has
seen a tree, but because he has seen another picture of a tree. A
quartet is written in response to another quartet.
[End extracted text]

Note that the passage above does not contain quotation marks. Hence,
the author Joseph Kerman may have been expressing his own analysis of
the position of Malraux. It is not clear whether Malraux employed a
painting of a tree as an example.

Below is a pertinent excerpt from an English translation of an excerpt
from Malraux. I think that this excerpt displays a notion that could
have inspired the 1979 statement. A tree was not mentioned.

Year: 2009
Title: Art and the Human Adventure: Andre Malraux's Theory of Art
Author: Derek Allan
Database: Google Books Preview

[Begin excerpt]
Malraux finds ample evidence for this claim in the history of art. "It
is a revealing fact," he writes,

that, when explaining how his vocation came to him, every great artist
traces it back to the emotion he experienced at his contact with some
specific work of art: a writer to the reading of a poem or a novel, or
a visit to a theatre; a musician to a concert he attended, a painter
to a painting he once saw. Never do we hear of the man who became an
artist by suddenly, out of the blue, so to speak, responding to a
compulsion to express some scene or startling incident. 7
[End excerpt]

[Begin footnote]
Footnote 7: Le Voix du silence, 497
[End footnote]

Garson


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