A "Theatre" Piece: The Artist

Leon Golub

From the archives of artist Leon Golub. This piece was probably written between 1972 and 1973.

Banker: Time is money!
Artist: Time—stop! Simultaneous! New now—art! Money is OK! Money frees the artist.
Banker: You recognize the value of money?
Artist: Recognition—right!
Banker: With money we can build you museums—to your glory and to ours!
Artist: To your glory and to ours!

General: America needs space—lebensraum! The divinity that is America. The divine right is to be made manifest! Our manifest destiny!
Artist: Artists do not recognize manifest destiny! But we abhor spatial restriction! Space is now—flat!
General: You talk absurdly! Artists are ridiculous! Space is tangible, my friend, one possesses it! We recognize however the triumphant success of American Art—its flag is over the globe!
Artist: We recognize the power of America, the power of American art! But we have no connection to your power manias, you militant and militarist fantasies. Fuck War!
General: We generals fuck the enemy! We lay into the cowardly custards!
Artist: Artists fuck the past.
General: Peace, friend. Don't gainsay me that!
Artist: Peace!

Statesman: Artist! We are going to send you work around the world—great American art! We are proud of our great artists!
Artist: I have no truck with American Foreign Policy. Art cannot be bought!
Statesman: We need you artist. Art is clean. You are clean. I am clean America is clean.
Artist: You are a dirty pig! But art is clean and I am clean.
Statesman: Listen artist, you are free, right?
Artist: Pig, we earned our freedom!
Statesman: But you are free?
Artist: Yes. I am free!
Statesman: So where is the lie if we show your free art to the world?
Artist: There is no lie in that!
Statesman: Your art is free. There is no label on it. We celebrate you, artist, and the society that could produce you.
Artist: Thank you.

Businessman: The artist is a businessman—no difference!
Artist: Crap! Pure unadulterated B.S.!
Businessman: You are on your pride today! Come off it. I make an object. I sell it! You make an object. You sell it!
Artist: B.S.! B.S.! B.S.! Man! My object, man, is unique! It is untouchable, you bastard!
Businessman: Listen! That's not the point! Such fucking innocence! Sure your object is unique. I envy you! What prices! What status! You make it, you sell it! Don't you realize-your objects are priceless! The summit, the peak. The supreme peak of the market.
Artist: You know you got something there!
Businessman: Listen, my friend, art value renders into negotiable currency. High prices are not crap! They are value. Real value!
Artist: I gotta think about that one.

Industrialist: I make big war machines. Sorry about that! But America needs me.
Artist: Killer!
Industrialist: My friend, I do it for my country! Don't call me a killer. I am a patriot! It is my simple duty! Besides if I didn't do it, you know who would!
Artist: Lies and dirt!
Industrialist: I love art! I put it in my factory! I put it in my home! You need me, my know-how and my machines. Artist, the world is not so simple, it is not all black and white!
Artist: You are right, it is not all black and white!