VR - But an artist like Dali could still become very popular.
EF - Yeah well y'know, the public doesn't care if its Surrealist art or 'Avida Dollars'. They just see the painting; they like it; they're fascinated by it; and they buy it. And then there was also the 'showman' Dali who could do the most amazing 'happenings' in those days. The newspapers were quite happy with it. That's exactly the aspect of commercializing art which I think should also be a subject of the study of art. But the art schools don't touch that sort of thing. An artist should not be 'commercial' - no. But art - that's his business.

"...the way he saw things made
a difference to my way of seeing..."

VR - The artist always was a merchant in the past.
EF - Of course.
VR - Do you find yourself analyzing certain motifs in a painting?
EF - Well you know I don't think you can interpret the language of pictures. You can try, and you can do it very well. And still, you never can be sure that it is really right. I realized while looking with Dali at certain paintings that - the way he saw it, you know, that was completely different to my own vision... He saw things in it that I couldn't see. Except when he pointed it out.
     He said, for example, 'Do you realize that Rembrandt never painted blue?'No Blue! Do you know what kind of sickness that is? And he knew the Latin name of it... 'And do you realize that the older he gets, the less is there light in his painting. And bigger, bigger becomes the darkness...'That's wierd. 'I never thought about this', I said.



'Yes!' he said, 'And I know that he was afraid of becoming blind. And that's why he did The Blinding of Samson several times in his art.'
      You know I realized that, the way he saw things made a difference to my way of seeing. When he mentioned his observation, then you immediately realized that it was perfectly true... And how could you overlook that? This was, to me, the stunning thing. Why did I never ask myself, is there a blue in Rembrandt's work? And then say, 'no there is not', and explain why! To Dali, this was the work of an afternoon. He wrote an article about it. And everybody said, ah, Dali's crazy, because how could Rembrandt be colour blind? But he was - and still a genius.
      That also teaches me one thing about fine art which usually escapes the understanding. It's not always necessary to be a great technician, or to have many colours, or whatever. Because it's the exceptions - like Dali said of Rembrandt - that are important. That somebody, who is blind to colour, could be a great painter. Or like Beethoven being deaf... that does not exclude the hearing. It's the exceptions in art that are important. That's one lesson... one lesson I got from looking at art with Dali.
VR - And he was constantly painting himself, so that gave him the dialogue or insight with the other painters.
EF - Yes! Though he had his well thought-out preferences... To him Velazquez and Vermeer were the great painters. And I said, yes, but look at Grünewald's Resurrection. He replied, 'Il me manque le foi!'(I lack the faith!) (laughter) He was very honest about this. He could be very very honest with me, it was wonderful. He was not at all the clown that everybody saw...
VR - Wait a minute. When you knew him he was in his Catholic period.