19 April 2010

Lying to show truth

On nola.com, David Simon explains the creative liberties taken in Treme.

Well, Pablo Picasso famously said that art is the lie that shows us the truth. Such might be the case of a celebrated artist claiming more for himself and his work than he ought, or perhaps, this Picasso fella was on to something.

By referencing what is real, or historical, a fictional narrative can speak in a powerful, full-throated way to the problems and issues of our time. And a wholly imagined tale, set amid the intricate and accurate details of a real place and time, can resonate with readers in profound ways. In short, drama is its own argument.
Does anyone know if Picasso originated the "art uses lies to show truth" line? I've seen forms of it elsewhere. Tom's opening monologue in The Glass Menagerie. V for Vendetta. Just curious....


  1. "We all know that art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies." (The Arts, Picasso Speaks, 1923)


    (BTW, we both went to Coe. This is Jessica Grimm, graduated '03 but came back to do "As You Like It" for Dennis)

  2. Thanks for posting the source, Jessica!