Rubek is a sculptor whose marriage has gone stale and who feels says that his artistic work has become ’empty and hollow and meaningless’. While at a spa with his wife, he bumps into Irena, his former muse, who inspired his most celebrated work, ‘Resurrection’. Irena confides to Rubek, that she, too, feels ‘dead’, as though her soul had been stolen by the sculpture that inspired it. In this speech, Rubek expresses contempt for the admirers of his current work, which he judges to be worthless….
RUBEK: They’re a bunch of pompous windbags! The whole lot of them! They look at my work and … and see something that isn’t there – something that was never in my mind at all! It’s just a bunch of academic nonsense. On the surface, yes, I’ll admit I give them the “striking likeness” they so desperately desire, that they gape at in astonishment, but I could never satisfy myself with such a simple task – you should realize that by now. I have to do something to entertain myself – don’t I? So I take a few … artistic liberties, let’s say … make a few embellishments here and there … leave a little something hidden in each one, something cryptic, lurking behind those lifelike masks, a subliminal suggestion that my wealthy benefactors are either too stupid or too proud to discern. But someday, perhaps … someday, they shall see it. As they huddle round these “portrait busts,” as you call them, with their children and their grandchildren, they shall suddenly come to the horrific realization that, at bottom, they are all a bunch of pompous horse-faces, lop-eared dog-skulls, and fatted swine-snouts! It is these double-faced works of art that our excellent plutocrats come and order of me, and pay for in good round figures!