Camera Work: A Photographic Quarterly — 1910 (Heft 31)

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IN the Photo-Secession Notes in the last number of Camera Work, when
reference was made to the exhibition of the work of “The Younger
American Painters,” it was announced that some of the press notices of
the exhibition would be reprinted in this issue for the sake of record. They
James Huneker in the “New York Sun”:
We picked out Max Weber from the rest of the revolutionists in the Little Gallery of the
Secession, 291 Fifth Avenue. Mr. Weber caught our eye (collided with it would be more truthful)
with his dainty exposure of three ladies in search of the mad naked summer night. That their legs
are like casks, their hips massive as moons, their faces vitriolic in expression is beside the mark.
The chief thing that interested us was to note the influence of Matisse. We know that Cézanne
reduced all forms to the sphere, the cone and the cylinder, and this study viewed as such reveals
plenty of cleverness and research. In the meantime the “picture” has vanished. Like the old saying
at the hospital, “The operation was successful but the patient died.” The entire new movement,
its æsthetic, is based on the avoidance of the picturesque, of the “picture,” of the lyric interpretation
of nature. Courbet called himself a realist. Was he ? No more than Zola. He was at heart a
blustering romantic, accepted many studio conventions, and consider his horrible rusty blacks!
Manet went far, but Hals and Velasquez hooked him in the end. The break with the past must be
radical, one in which the present practice of form and color will be superseded by an absolutely
(in a relative sense, toujours, mes enfants!) truthful rendering of nature. Cézanne is the path
breaker. Monet,with his colored shadows, is as old-fashioned as Turner or Whistler! This Max
Weber in his still life has some good color, and his treatment of volumes of tone a la Cézanne must
be praised. Steichen is represented by several portraits, classic in comparison with the efforts of
his associates. One, that of a woman sitting and gazing at the spectator, is intensely felt. In
technique it is strong.
As for shadows, they are antique studio baggage. These young Peter Schlemils of paint
have shed their shadows. A garden scene with tea table by Alfred Maurer is another vivid piece.
It is vital paint this, and if it is not in the misty poetic key of Le Sidaner (who is fond of just such
stunts with contrasted lights, lamplight against moonlight), it is very individual all the same.
Marsden Hartley makes you catch your breath,yet a mountainside ofhis has a touch of the grandiose
and no doubt looked that way to the young artist. Sincerity is the keynote, even the interpretation
of the ugly, or what is called ugly, for it’s all a matter of degree. Monet, now a rosewater idealist
in landscape, was declared hideous thirty years ago. The fact is the opticians and aurists tell us
that the capacity for optical and aural “accommodation” of the human eye and ear is very great.
Therefore do not be surprised if some of these chaps, Brinley, Carles, Arthur Dove, Fellows,
Hartley, John Marin, Alfred Maurer, Steichen and Weber loom up as pontiffs of the Futurists.
We confess we went up to the Academy in a chastened mood and sought the compositions of
Gilbert Gaul, Henry (not “Oh!” Henry, but E. L.) and dear old J. G. Brown as anodynes.
The Matisse controversy proceeds apace in Paris. Some German admirers sent the artist
a gold crown. This moved Charles Morice—himself once a leader of les Jeunes—to make
sarcastic comment in the columns of the Paris Journal. He finds Matisse on the wrong track,
a victim to his fanatical admirers,to his native bad taste, to his research of the bizarre,the morbid,
the horrible (sounds like a cast iron indictment of Richard Gambrinus Strauss) and also to a
misapprehension of Cézanne. We would not mention this banal accusation if it had not been made
by Morice, the same Morice who defended Paul Gauguin. He concludes by declaring that every
epoch has its Bonnat and its Matisse. Yes, and its Max Nordau. There is no evading the logic
of Mr. Mather, who, after a study of the Matisse drawings, summed up thus: “They are in the
high tradition of fine draughtsmanship of the figure. If on sufficient acquaintance they still seem
merely eccentric to any one, let him rest assured that the lack of centrality is not with them but

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