The Task of the Artist

“At this point words become inadequate and I return to the great discovery I began preparing you for, the knowledge of the one surface with which the world offered itself to this art. Offered, but not yet gave. Accepting it would (and still does) require endless work.

Consider for a moment how much work would be required for an artist who wished to master all surfaces; after all, no one thing is just like another. He wasn’t concerned with knowing the body in general, nor the face or the hand (none of which exists anyhow); but rather all bodies, all faces, all hands. This is a task! And how simple and serious it is, how completely devoid of temptation and promise; how completely unpretentious.

A craft develops that appears to be that of an immortal; it is so broad, so infinite and beyond boundaries, and so dedicated to a process of constant learning. Where to find a patience adequate to this craft?”

From “Rodin” by Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Daniel Slager)

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