The Fall of Art

"I don't get it."

"Just don't think toohard. Experience it."

As statues, two men stood,silhouetted against a vibrant red background. Their eyes danced across thebroad painting that sat before them.

"It's beautiful,"one said.

"I still don't getit," spoke the other. "All he did was paint a canvas red."

"Look at the precision though,"hailed the first. "The time put into it must have been unimaginable."

"I guess."

The hand swooped anotherthirty degrees. The red canvas began to engrave itself into the men's eyes. Theappreciative one bathed in the subjective glory, while the other strained.

The latter took a stepforward, hand stretched out, grasping at the air. His eyes sparkled.

"I see it," hesaid, marveling. "I see it."

"Isn't it great?"said the other. "I must meet the artist."

The foreground creaked, thetwo turned from their trance of the bloody background to see a humble man standbefore them, short in stature, thick glasses hiding most of his fragile face.

Eyes locked together fromacross the room, and at that moment, the hand stopped. Then, the little manjaggedly crept back into the shadows. Spoken words were swallowed, and the menawkwardly walked paths already walked, out of the stuffy studio. The sun passedhigh noon, set in the east, and all was dark. Days passed, and stroke by strokethe red retreated from the canvas, revealing the pale matt beneath. Shadowsshortened, grew, disappeared altogether. The little man danced as the crimsonpaint wetted and jumped from the board to his brush, which then dipped backinto his slowly filling paint can. At last, the canvas was a virgin again, andthe little man stared, eyes blinking behind thick lenses. His fresh paintbrush,untouched except for the snug hug of its packaging bed, met his hand, anddipped so tenderly into the undisturbed surface of the can full of red.

The coated brush approachedthe canvas timidly, and after a pause, made its mark. And it was beautiful.

"It's genius,"pronounced an official-looking man with a puff of his pipe. "You, sir,have the hands of a deity."

The little man stared at thefinger pointed at his cranium. He tilted his head.

"How much do you wantfor it?" the man said with another puff. "I'll give you anything youwant."

The little man continued tostare. His eyes shut and his hand wagged in defiance.

"No please, Iinsist."

Again, the little manresisted, spreading his arms between his art and the man with the pipe, facecringed.

"Alright, fine. Howabout you make me another? You can keep that one. I just want a piece of yourart."

After some thought, the littleman nodded. Nonchalantly, he pushed the patron out of his studio, slammed thedoor, and grabbed a handful of brushes.

"Can I have everyone'sattention, please?" Cory Prett squealed through the microphone, puffingfrom his pipe. "May I present to you, the cutting edge of art." Prettturned to the little man, and gave a wink.

The little man stared at thecovered canvas.

"Ladies and gentlemen.Here, I present to you, a piece of work so revolutionary, so visionary, itcould very well change the face of our culture altogether. Ladies andgentlemen, I present to you, a masterpiece. I present to you, ‘Blue’!"Prett lifted his hat, stepped aside, and pulled away the mildewy tarp that hungfrom the little man's painting, all in one sweeping gesture.

The audience gasped.

"It's... certainlydifferent."

"My kid could dothat."

"I see the statementhe's trying to make. Love, war, it's all so… blue."

"He painted a canvasblue. If that's what it takes to be an artist, then call me Leonardo."

"It's, amazing. Suchbeauty, it brings tears to my eyes."

"Are you people kiddingme?"

"The boldness of it,it's quite breath-taking. I've never seen anything like it before. I must haveit."

"I guess it's...alright?"

"Maybe they're right.They must be, they're art critics, right? The one in the hat is, I'm sure. Notthat one, the one with the beard. Oh it's an official looking beard."

"All he did was paint acanvas blue, people. C'mon."

"Who painted this? Imust meet him. There is a genius among us."

"A genius? He painted acanvas one color. Solid. There's not even a pattern."

"They're saying it's amasterpiece. They can't all be wrong, can they?"

The little man observed theruckus from his place in the gloomy backstage, wide eyes blinking. He lookedfrom the audience to the great blue canvas before him. His attention snappedback to Prett, whose pointer finger extended towards the little man's forehead.

"The man behind thepainting stands right here, backstage. A legend in the making, he spent sixtydays and nights on this masterpiece. His precision is unmatched. May Iintroduce to you, Mister... Mister... Uh," sputtered Prett, eyes searchingthe little man for a clue.

Awkwardly, the little manstepped out into the limelight, pupils shrinking in terror of the unseen facesjudging and gaping at him. The light almost blinded him as he made his wayalong the constantly stretching path to Prett. Uncertainly, Prett handed themicrophone to the little man, who grasped it like a bomb, foreign and likely togo off at any second. All eyes orbited his darkly clothed body, back-dropped byhis painting of blue.

His hand lifted from hisside, the pointer and middle finger pressing together, the others at rest.Lightly he tapped the microphone, which apparently passed the test, for asecond later he lifted it up to his chapped lips.

"My name," thelittle man said. "My name is Art."

Art sat on a stool in the smoky,grimy atmosphere of a local pub, looking into space as all those around himpatted him and prodded him, congratulated him and hailed him, scoffed at himand questioned him. Prett sat to his side, gleaming with pride.

"You know, Art, youcould be big," he exclaimed, taking a swig of a drink. "Not just big,but huge. I see a bright future for you. I do, I do."

Art snapped out of a starrygaze to shift his attention towards Prett.

"I tell ya, this is justa taste of what your life could be like. All I need is your signature, boy, andthe world will marvel at your genius."

Art's eyes traveled to hisupturned palms, still stained in blue paint. Mr. Prett pulled out a batteredsuitcase, and from there emerged a piece of paper. Art's head bolted upwards.

"Just one signature.That's all it will take."

And with the hands he workedwonders from, Art hesitantly grasped paper and pen. He stopped for a moment,then proceeded to neatly scrawl an A, an R, and a T. Cory Prett grinned aghastly grin, planting his hand upon Art's frail back.

"You, my friend, have itmade."

There Art stood, face to facewith another canvas. The sun crept in through the smudged windows hanging onthe far walls of his studio, taking a seat on the opposite side of the room,intently watching the artist at work. There Art stood. He became startled by aloud crash at the rear of his studio.

"Art, we have aproblem," Cory Prett called out as he pulled a paint bucket clumsily offhis foot.

Art stared absently at theintrusion.

"What is this? Whyhaven't you done anything yet? You have a deadline, sir. And the funny thingabout deadlines, see, is that they must be met," Prett sternly claimed.

With a whisper, Art said,"You can't rush these things."

"I sure as hell can. IfI was born two thousand years earlier I could have rushed Jesus out of his cavein one day rather than three. Just… start on something. You've had two monthsto work on this. Have something in a week, or else this is all over." Andwith that, Prett stormed out.

Alone again, Art continued tolook in the direction that the broad frame of his manager had previouslyoccupied. Then, he grinned.

"Purple," he said,a gleam in his eyes.

The cameras flashed, the redcarpet rolled, and the audience screamed. Art, accompanied by Cory Prett,strolled among the celebrities and socialites.

"Art, Art. It's been abig year for you, with over twenty paintings, all critically acclaimed andrevered. How are you feeling at the moment?" rasped a jittery reporterfrom behind a line of ropes.

"First might I make anote that I am no longer Art, but The Artist Formerly Known as Art. Second ofall, I must say, I feel amazing, knowing I'm better than, well, all ofyou," The Artist Formerly Known as Art passively stated as he walked on,with crowds of fans bowing at his feet.

"Can the man do nowrong?" screeched a reporter over the ruckus to the mechanical monsterpointed at her face.

The Artist Formerly Known asArt, with two plastic blondes grasping at his arms, strolled towards his newart gallery, showcasing his freshest paintings.

"His work really hastaken a toll. I feel like he's sold out."

"I don't know, he justhas the resources to make more now, that's all."

"Have you seen some ofhis new art? You can tell his heart isn't in it anymore. He's just painting forthe money now."

The night slowly grew old,and a sun burst from the earth’s womb as The Artist Formerly Known as Art arosefrom his slumber.

"So you have themworking on your next twenty pieces?" said Prett.

"Yes sir. We should havethem out of production by March," Art coldly responded, sunglassed facepeering down at the factory floor, sweaty men in overalls tediously paintingdozens of canvases, splashing spirals and waves on the old Art's signaturestyle.

"Then we shall makequite the profit this quarter. Things are looking up, boy," exclaimedPrett.

"Mr. Prett," TheArtist Formerly Known as Art started. "Did you hear those men last night?They said my art's been lacking recently."

"Ah, you can neverplease a critic," Prett passively said.

"Well, sure, but I havea feeling most of the critics feel that way now. They say I've sold out."

"Well, you have. But whocares? You're making money."

"Yeah, but..."

"No buts, Arty. You don’thave the time to worry about petty critics. You have a quota to fill, acontract to comply with and money to make. Get over it. They only attack youbecause they're jealous."

"Alright," TheArtist Formerly Known as Art mumbled, face aghast. As Cory Prett walked on,head glued to a blackberry, the little sunglassed man eyed his factory floor.

"What is the meaning ofthis?" Cory Prett hollered at the overalled men standing in the street,grasping the locked gates. The evening sun highlighted Prett's enraged crimsonface as he glared down at the bewildered workers.

"He kicked us out,"one said. "All at once; he didn't even say why."


"He locked himself in.He fired us all. We've tried reasoning with him but he refused. I don't knowwhat happened, sir."


A blood vessel burst inPrett's forehead as he threw his pipe towards the ground and ran screaming atthe locked gates of The Artist Formerly Known as Art's factory.

"Art, you bastard.You'll pay for this, you... you..." And with that, Prett stormed off.

A crowd massive enough tofill several stadiums five times over surged towards a stage in the middle ofCentral Park. Waves of people flooded in, crushing the grass beneath theirfeet, shaking the ground around them.

"Art's newpainting--"

"--he's worked on it forfive years--"

"--supposed to be hisbest yet--"

"--the guy really stuckit to the man--"

"--I can't wait to seethis thing, I've been anticipating it for so long."

The crowds swallowed thepark, waiting patiently for Art to appear.

"Ladies andgentlemen," he announced after a seemingly never-ending applause ofwelcome. "I will say no more than one word to introduce this, my greatestpainting. That word… is ‘Black’." A flick of the wrist and down fell thetarp that secluded the monolith that balanced behind him. Collectively, thecrowd gasped, for there before them, larger than life, towered pitch-blackness.

Silence spread like theplague as the masses of adoring fans and sniveling critics beheld the beastthat ate the sky. Not one person spoke. Not one person breathed.

Silence hovered, and Art looked upon theadoring faces.

A knife, subtle but deadly,slit through this absence of sound with a cut the strength of a sonic boom. Thecrowd screamed and ducked, covering their heads and loved ones. One more stabof sound, and another less noticeable among the echos of terror that bouncedamong the trees. The frail man on the stage, thick glasses grasped in his righthand, turned his head to look at his painting. Within the strokes of preciselyplaced black paint, three splotches of red trickled, swirling and mixing withthe painting. With his left hand, Art felt for his heart, but felt nothing.Slowly, so slowly, he dropped to his knees. In a matter of seconds, thebloodied painting behind him became his last.

From the crowd, a man screamed.

"Cory Prett killedArt."

There are no messages yet
Short Story
writing thezachendres
Everyone's famous in their colon.
Bookmark and Share

You must log in to rate.
This has not been rated.

Witness the rise and fall of a genius named Art.