The Erudite Stephen Fry on the Engagement with Art

"In an increasingly infantilised world where so much seems to be split into good or bad, correct or incorrect, acceptable or unacceptable,

where complex ideas are chopped up for public consumption like food chopped up for a child,

where so much is hygienic, attainable, safe, sugared, assimilable, digestible, pasteurised, homogenised and sanitised,

in such a world our appetite has never been greater for the complex, the ambiguous, the challenging, the untamed, the sharp, the peculiar, the surprising, the dangerous, the dirty, the difficult, the untameable, the elusive, the unsafe and the unknowable.

In other words, for art.

And to confront it, all we need do is to forget ourselves and our embarrassments and find a way to engage face to face.

When we are in the galleries, we can all be Oscar (Wilde), we can all raise our eyes to a canvas and encounter it fearlessly, with humour and grace and zest and not a trace of embarrassment.

It is the adventure of a lifetime and there are few better places in the world in which to embark on such an adventure than here, where art and artists rule."

Stephen Fry, Speech given at the a dinner for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, 8th June, 2010.