Ever since it was sent to me by a friend, I’ve been unable to get this anecdote, from an essay by Richard Wollheim on the painter Nicolas de Staël, far out of mind. I can’t paraphrase its wisdom, except that it seems a wisdom reached on the far side of work:

A conversation of January 1950, reported by Staël’s friend Pierre Lecuire, does something to attenuate, or at least to account for, the seemingly paradoxical character of Staël’s commitment to abstraction. ‘Look,’ he said, pointing to a glue-pot and an ashtray, ‘here are objects, and this is just what I don’t represent.’ Then, picking up a pencil, he made it pass backwards and forwards from the glue-pot to the ashtray. ‘Now, look, that’s painting. L’entre-deux, what lies between the two. Braque paints what is around the objects, then he represents the objects. As for myself, objects, they don’t interest me any longer. I no longer paint them.’ Pressed as to what was left of the object in his painting, Staël said: ‘Rapport. Rapport. Rapport.’

[P.S. Practice Catalogue will pause for a month and when it returns will feature considerably more entries authored by others. Send along any ideas or material––exercise, habit, quotation, evocation, or meditation thereon.]