Pop Culture
Feb 15, 2022, 06:27AM

Everything Else is Just Making a Living

A 2008 Oprah Magazine interview with actor/director Denzel Washington vs. a 1971 Artforum interview with the late painter Robert Ryman.

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Robert Ryman: When I begin, I’m never quite sure what the result is going to be.

Denzel Washington: Doesn't that line cover a lot of territory?

Ryman: You can’t get away from that. But what’s also important is the wow, too.

Washington: Exactly. I love it. It brings me joy.

Ryman: It just happened that way. Then, I reversed it; then, you had the shiny enamel.


Washington: I was alone, I was listening to Janet Jackson on my Walkman, and I was like, "Wow, I'm in Africa. What a life." [snaps his fingers] Everything else is just making a living.

Ryman: No, never. No. They’re essentially the same.


Washington: Nothing changed. We met, but then we saw each other again at a party a year later.

Ryman: But that’s up to that person. You can look at clouds and see faces in the clouds, that kind of thing.

Washington: I sneaked into his dressing room and looked at his props and his rings while he was meeting people.

Ryman: I would pick one or two out of the three and destroy the third one. 


Washington: Even the energy of other people in a room can impact the way we see things.

Ryman: Sometimes the space is considered, and sometimes it isn’t. It has to be on the wall, in a situation. It’s a translucent surface.

Washington: I was reminded of that while we were filming in the backwoods of Louisiana. Everyone was coming out of the woodwork to see the show.

Ryman: That’s not really there; it’s just the imagination of the viewer.


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