of figures and news and wisdoms and market-place hagglings! Fish-frauen!
But in this little oasis of the spirit I have found in my wanderings, there
are none of these noisome things or qualities or events. They are not missed;
they are not wanted. The sheik of this oasis has placed a symbol on the
brink of the sands: “Abandon masks, all ye who enter here.” Thus, out of
this desert called New York, there is yet a single spot where the soul of a
man may come forth unafraid, inviolate.
Such an oasis unto which the soul may escape in a moment out of the
journey, fleeing the desert’s sirocco, hiding from the fangs of creeping crea-
tures, is “291.” But why rhapsodize about it? It is known to those who,
searching the desert through for an unspoiled spot, saw and claimed it for
their own. Known also is the guardian of the springs, the keeper of the
cup of good cheer, the muezzin of modernity.
Ave, Loca immortalis: We about to live salute thee!
It was a sufficiently terrible thing when the inmates of Dr. Goujon’s
private asylum succeeded in overmastering their keepers and acquired con-
trol of the establishment. There is no more horrible story in fiction, but on
a small scale a still more terrible thing has happened in New York if in the
fury of life anyone could wait to see. Terrible because so small and helpless,
terrible because so rare and incredible among nations that believe in them-
At 291 Fifth Avenue in one small centre a perfectly sane man acquired
control of a gallery and opened its door to the public. He has seen through
the dreams of dreamers, overmastered the impulses which drive one to poli-
tics, another to the academy, and another to gaol. He has seen that the king-
dom of Heaven is within you, that the earth is perfectly suited to express any
imaginable bliss that matter can fulfil, and that there is time for the Soul.
But he has seen that the myriads who pass his threshold are without part
in the kingdoms of their heavens, and that for the shoddiest reasons.
Primarily, “291” was a Photo-Secession, a revolt from the degradation
of one form of creative art, but it has long ceased to be only that. There
is only one Freedom born of the perception of Truth, and there is but one
possibility of attaining it: liberty to look for it.
Alfred Stieglitz has the colloquial habit of saying, “Well, say, I’ll tell
you.” But the astonishing thing is that he tells you such things that the
half-born thought in your soul utters its first cry. He is a dreamer not be-
cause he is undeveloped in other directions, his practical ability is not ques-
tioned by those who know him, but his practice astonishes those who do not