In art, the mass of people no longer seek consolation and exaltation, but [instead they seek] those who are refined, rich, unoccupied, [artists] who are distillers of quintessences, [the mass of people] seek what is new, strange, original, extravagant, scandalous.
I myself—since Cubism and before—have satisfied these masters and critics with all the changing oddities that have passed through my head, and the less they understand me, the more they admired me.
By amusing myself with these games […] I became famous and very quickly.
And fame for a painter means sales, gains, fortune, riches.
And today—as you know—I am celebrated. I am rich.
But when I am alone with myself, I do not have the courage to think of myself as an artist in the great and ancient sense of the term. Giotto, Titian, Rembrandt, they were great painters.
I am only a public entertainer who has understood his times and exploited—as best he could—the imbecility, the vanity, and the greed of his contemporaries.
Pablo Picasso in Giovanni Papini’s novel Il Libro Nero (1951).
(one of the more interesting stories surrounding this quote, other than the myth about Picasso having said it, is that the ex-Fascist Papini was urged by NATO to publish the Picasso section of Il Libro Nero as a genuine interview in order to undercut Picasso’s credibility. Picasso being an unrepentant communist.)