Robert W. Service: Picture Dealer

There were twin artists A. and B.
Who painted pictures two,
And hung them in my gallery
For everyone to view;
The one exhibited by A.
The name “A Sphere” did bear,
While strangely brother B’s display
Was catalogued: “A Square”.

Now although A. (and this is queer)
Could squeeze a pretty tube,
The picture that he called a Sphere
Was blocky as a cube;
While B. (though no hint he disclosed
To pull the public leg)
The Square he placidly exposed
Was oval as an egg.

Thought I: To sell these pictures two
I never will be able;
There’s only one thing I can do,
That’s change around the label.
The rotund one I called a Sphere,
The cornered one a Square . . .
And yet, I thought: It’s very queer,
Unbought they linger there.

Then strange as it may well appear,
Derision did I bare,
And blandly dubbed the Square a Sphere
And tabbed the Sphere a Square.
Behold the answer I had found,
For to my glad dismay
The curious came crowding round:
A sold the daubs next day.

Well, maybe A. and B. were right,
Not mugs like you and me,
With something missing in our sight
That only artists see.
So what it is and what it ain’t
I
‘ll never more discuss . . .
These guys believe in what they paint,
Or . . . are they spoofing us?

Robert W. Service, 1874-1958

Image: Sonia Delaunay, 1885-1979

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Author: jeh

Jeremy Hunt is Director of the AAJ Press (Art & Architecture Journal / Press) – a writer and consultant on art and public space - creator of art projects - writer on art

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