“Second Rate Turner”, An Ode To Oscar Wilde

by Samuel De Lemos

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Dialog with my undergrad adviser at the Art Institute a few years ago:

Me: I’m thinking of applying to graduate school.

Prof: Save your money and buy a lot of art supplies.

Me: Actually, I’m thinking about getting my graduate degree in philosophy. Shocked, and after a few seconds of silence.

Prof: Isn’t there enough philosophy in painting?

Me: Yes, but I’m really intrigued by the deeper meaning of art, life and words. When I open up an art book or magazine, the images come alive with the words. I ultimately feel that art is naked without words…

Prof: Art speaks for itself, at least good art does. Good art doesn’t need words.

Me: Not according to Oscar Wilde. When speaking to someone who casually observed how lovely a certain English sunset was. Remarked, that it was only, “a second rate Turner.” With one stroke of his pen, his wit superseded Turner’s famous sunset and his friend’s casual remark.

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