[Ads-l] Quote: When bankers get together for dinner they discuss Art. When artists get together for dinner, they discuss Money

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jun 11 21:03:52 UTC 2016

I was sent a tweet inquiry from @npr_rad (NPR RAD Research, Archives,
& Data Strategy)

[Begin tweet text]
@QuoteResearch When bankers get together for dinner they discuss Art.
When artists get together for dinner, they discuss Money #oscarwilde ?
[End tweet text]

Here is my quick preliminary analysis. Your help is desired.

I searched "The Wit & Wisdom of Oscar Wilde" edited by Ralph Keyes,
and the saying was absent. Also, it was not listed on the Wikiquote
webpages (public-facing/discussion) for Oscar Wilde. Barry Popik's
website did not list it. It was not in the YBQ.

The prominent composer Jean Sibelius said something pertinent that was
reported in a 1937 biography:

[ref] 1938, Sibelius: A Close-up by Bengt de Törne, Quote Page 94,
Houghton Mifflin, Boston, Massachusetts. (Faber and Faber, London
edition released earlier in 1937) (Verified with scans in 1938

[Begin excerpt]
Sibelius considers artists, their eccentricities and pettinesses, with
a humorous understanding. One day he said: 'It is so difficult to mix
with artists! You must choose business men to talk to, because artists
only talk of money.'
[End excerpt]

Sibelius was born in 1865. So he was eighty in 1945. The instance
below is also ascribed to Sibelius, and it is closer to the modern

[ref] 1950 February 5, The Pittsburgh Press, Music: Sibelius' Comment,
Quote Page 63, Column 6, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

[Begin except]
Sibelius is reported to have said on his 80th birthday: "If you want
to discuss art you must talk to men of business. Artists only discuss
[End excerpt]

By 1980 a version of the saying had been assigned to Oscar Wilde:

[ref] 1980 November 2, The Courier-Journal, The Business of Art by Pam
Luecke (Courier-Journal Business Writer), Quote Page E1, Column 1,
Louisville, Kentucky. (Newspapers_com)[/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
But Jan Arnow prefers another quote — attributed to Oscar Wilde — that
takes the artist down from his purist pedestal.

"When bankers dine together they discuss art," it says. "When artists
dine together they discuss money."
[End excerpt]

I explored a thematically related saying contrasting the commercial
and artistic impulses that was ascribed to George Bernard Shaw in

You Are Only Interested in Art and I Am Only Interested in Money


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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