CHARLES SAMUELS: In an interview I had with John Updike, he said something that fascinated me: “Being an artist is dangerous because it allows one to turn one’s pain too quickly to profit.”
MICHELANGELO ANTONIONI: I couldn’t use that phrase today—”being an artist”—as if that were something exceptional. And if somebody transmutes his pain into profit, very good. I find that the most wonderful way to kill pain.
Why do you say “today”? Could you have used the phrase “being an artist” in some other period?
Yes, of course. I think that during the Renaissance everything was influenced by art. Now the world is so much more important than art that I can no longer imagine a future artistic function.
But today, what is the function?
I don’t know.
You don’t know?
Then tell me.
You want me to tell you what the function of art is!
You can read the full transcription of the interview here.