Marlon Brando: Art and Money

Interview with Marlon Brando
Conducted by James Grissom
By Telephone

There will never be enough money to repay the artist who gives fully of himself to his work. That is simply the truth. How much do you pay Matisse or Cezanne or van Gogh or Bach or Proust or Tolstoy? Do you think Dickens was given enough money?  Mozart? Do we think Laurette Taylor was given her due? Or Duse? For all the jewels and furs and paintings and soft comforts that were placed at the feet of Sarah Bernhardt, those who saw her thought her vastly underpaid. The true artist illuminates and informs lives, and how do you reward that?

The true artist tends to say that the gift is the reward. The opportunity to share it is the reward. So they take what they can get.

I only felt this way for a short time and with certain people. I would have given my last dime to Stella [Adler] for a class. I would have worked for a dollar a week with [Elia] Kazan and Tennessee [Williams]. Those were artists. We were engaged in serious work that required all that we had.

But once I became a product, a thing, this item known as BRANDO, I named my price, because my time and my heart and my brain and my soul were being consumed by non-artists, and I was illuminating lives for all the wrong reasons. 

When it's not about art, it's only about money.

I was wrong and looked in the wrong places, but most of the places are wrong.

The decision of where you are willing to go and for what price is crucial. It is the foundation on which you will stand.

©  2014   James Grissom


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