Red | Clip

I Want to be a Painter


Ken, Rothko’s new assistant, arrives at the studio and the painter shares his ideas about his assistant’s daily work.

- Do you aspire?

- --Yes!

- To what?

To what do you aspire?

- --I want to be a painter, so I guess I aspire to painting.

- Then those clothes won't do.

Now we work here, hang up your jacket outside.

No, no I appreciate it. You put on your Sunday clothes to impress me.

It's poignant really, it touches me, but it's ridiculous.

We work hard here.

This isn't a g#*ddamn old world salon with tea cakes and lemonade.

Go hang up your jacket outside.

Sydney told you what I need here?

- --Yes!

- We start every morning at nine and we work until five, just like bankers.

You'll help me stretch the canvases, mix the paints, clean the brushes, build the stretchers, move the paintings.

Also help apply ground color, which is not painting.

So any lunatic assumptions you make in that direction you need to banish immediately.

You'll pick up food, cigarettes, anything else I want, any whim, no matter how demanding or demeaning.

You don't like that you can leave right now.

Answer me yes or no.

- --Yes.

- Consider I'm not your Rabbi, I'm not your father, I'm not your shrink, I'm not your teacher, I'm not your friend.

I am your employer, you understand?

- --Yes.

- As my assistant you're going to see many things here.

Many ingenious things, but they're all secret.

You cannot talk about any of this.

Don't think I don't have enemies, because I do.

And I don't just mean those other painters, and gallery owners, and museum curators, and g#*ddamn son of a bitch art critics.

Not to mention that vast panoply of disgruntled viewers who loathe me and my work.

Because they do not have the heart, nor the patience, nor the capacity to think, to understand, because they're not even human beings, like we talked about, you remember?