++ arbus

“About this time everyone suddenly decided I was meant to be an artist and I was given art lessons and a big box of oils and encouragement and everything. I painted and drew every once in a while for about four years with a teacher without admitting to anyone that I didn’t like to paint or draw at all and i didn’t know what I was doing. I used to pray and wish often to be a “great artist” and all the while I hated it and I didn’t realise that I didn’t want to be an artist at all. The horrible thing was that all the encouragement I got made me think that really I wanted to be an artist and made me keep pretending that I liked it and made me like it less and less until I hated it because it wasn’t me that was being an artist; everybody was lifting me high up and crowning me and congratulating me and I was smiling — and really I hated it and I hadn’t done one single good piece of work. It was the craziest pretense in the world but even though i was pretending i believed in it, for about four years I had visions of being a great sad artist and I turned all my energies toward it when I wasn’t an artist at all.”

Diane Arbus, 1940 autobiography, senior class assignment, Fieldston School


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