Robert Altman

Altman is an American photographer, best known for his work with Rolling Stone magazine. Photos from

  • 1 Does art make a difference?
  • Art Garfunkel made a difference. And Paul Simon outdid Art. Can it make a difference in the global sense? Will it ever impinge on world peace? I think not, but I do know it can and has altered the course of an individual’s life on the rare occasion.

  • 2 Should politics and art mix?
  • Bono seems to have made positive use of the powers that be. But should President Bush jam with Bruce Springsteen? Puhleeze. Though I might support him joining Riverdance.

  • 3 Is your work for the many or for the few?
  • For the many, I trust. As a photojournalist, I had a wide audience in mind. During the Sixties I was enthralled by the possibility that my images might positively impact the many.

  • 4 If you were world leader, what would
    be your first law?
  • To create a world court system where countries, smaller entities and individuals could petition their grievances.

  • 5 Who would be your top advisers?
  • Mel Brooks would be my top “go to” guy, and Hank Berman, my best friend from third grade. Hank can quote Schopenhauer. You never know when you might need that.

  • 6What, if anything, would you censor?
  • I’d censor shoppers in supermarket lines who always wait until the very last moment before fumbling for their purses.

  • 7 If you had to banish one public figure,
    who would it be?
  • Would you kindly throw in time travel, too? Then Mr Hitler would have been gone from this world before his first “Sieg Heil!”. Next to feel the metal-tipped toe of my boot would be a fella named Rush Limbaugh.

  • 8 What are the rules that you live by?
  • Even if I knew there was no God, I’d still subscribe to goodness and doing the right thing. Well, why not?

  • 9 Do you love your country?
  • I do. Particularly the America that the Beach Boys sang about. I may be stuck in time, though.

  • 10 Are we all doomed?
  • When our final hour appears I’ll repeat the last words of Augustus: “Acta est fabula, plaudite!” – “The play is over, applaud!”

This article first appeared in the 14 July 2008 issue of the New Statesman, ‘I’ll leave when I finish the job’