Spot the “liar”: Diego Velázquez painted himself into his famous work “Las Meninas.” The artist figures into the painting on the far left.
It’s been noted before, by the likes of Marlon Brando and others, that art might be a socially sanctioned form of lying—or confabulating, as neuroscientists might call it. Could this be true? —KA
Perhaps this is why we felt it necessary to invent art in the first place: as a safe space into which our lies can be corralled, and channelled into something socially useful. Given the universal compulsion to tell stories, art is the best way to refine and enjoy the particularly outlandish or insightful ones. But that is not the whole story. The key way in which artistic “lies” differ from normal lies, and from the “honest lying” of chronic confabulators, is that they have a meaning and resonance beyond their creator. The liar lies on behalf of himself; the artist tell lies on behalf of everyone.