Henry Miller on the True Measure of Art

A century after Kierkegaard scoffed at measuring art by popular opinion, Henry Miller picks up the subject with invigorating wholeheartedness in the lost vintage gem To Paint Is to Love Again :

How distressing it is to hear young painters talking about dealers, shows, newspaper reviews, rich patrons, and so on. All that comes with time — or will never come. But first one must make friends, create them through one’s work. What sustains the artist is the look of love in the eyes of the beholder. Not money, not the right connections, not exhibitions, not flattering reviews.


To win through by sheer force of genius is one thing; to survive and continue to create when every last door is slammed in one’s face is another. Nobody acquires genius — it is God-given. But one can acquire patience, fortitude, wisdom, understanding. Perhaps the greatest gift [is] to love what one does whether it causes a stir or not.

Read more of this forgotten treasure here, then see some of today's most successful artists on what it really means to be a great artist.

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