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

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B. P. Stephenson in the “New York Evening Post”:
of Pollaiolo and Hokusai in connection with Matisse. But we mustn’t forget that the followers of
Matisse, like the followers of Manet and Whistler, should be regarded with a suspicious eye.
One of the surprises in the present exhibition at the Photo-Secession galleries, No. 291 Fifth
Hartley sees greatness in a weird picture of two figures by Max Weber, one of the recent
recruits, which looks to the present writer like a very crude painting from an Assyrian tomb, but
Weber can see nothing in Hartley’s three waterfalls, painted at different times of the day, nor even
in a mountainside, which the writer is just beginning to understand. A well-known critic, himself
a painter, refuses to publish a word about the exhibition, which he considers “an insult to the
public.” An hour later a critic of international repute enters the galleries and declares the exhibition
to be one of the most important ever held in this country, for it is the first time that the American
public has had an opportunity of seeing these works of men who express themselves in color, the
whole structure of whose paintings is color. One artist exclaims, “Were the great old masters,
then, all wrong?” Another, “It is not my style, but why should men be tied down to distances
and middle distances because of Claude and Turner ? Why not allow them to be individual?”
Well, whether they be on the right or wrong tack, they are adding to the gayety of nations.
honestly experimenting we have no doubt, and it is only as experiments that these pictures must
be judged. They certainly are not masterpieces, and the men who painted them do not pretend
they are. They even fight among themselves as to what the point is which they hope to reach.
But to return to Steichen. There is one picture of his at the Photo-Secession of a woman
leaning over the back of a coral colored chair, dark-haired and dark-eyed, and rich purples about
her, a screen behind of many colors. It is all color broadly swept on, and the color gradually acts
as magic on you, casts a spell, so that at last you begin to wonder how the most academized mind
can find fault with its draughtsmanship. And so with Maurer. A few years ago he won a Carnegie
prize, or something of that sort, for a figure painting, and was hailed as “the coming man.” Some
one called him “the modern Velasquez”; others told him the mantle of Whistler would fall upon
him, and he believed what he heard. So he painted like Velasquez and he painted like Whistler,
and no one bought his pictures, for men who wanted a Velasquez bought either a Velasquez or a
Mazos, and those who needed a Whistler bought Whistlers; and there was no art dealer willing to
push the young painter’s pictures. And he went to the Salon d’Automne in Paris, saw Matisse
and his followers, and scoffed; and presently he went again and, returning to his studio, he saw
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leaning over the back of a coral colored chair, dark-haired and dark-eyed, and rich purples about
her, a screen behind of many colors. It is all color broadly swept on, and the color gradually acts
as magic on you, casts a spell, so that at last you begin to wonder how the most academized mind
can find fault with its draughtsmanship. And so with Maurer. A few years ago he won a Carnegie
prize, or something of that sort, for a figure painting, and was hailed as “the coming man.” Some
one called him “the modern Velasquez”; others told him the mantle of Whistler would fall upon
him, and he believed what he heard. So he painted like Velasquez and he painted like Whistler,
and no one bought his pictures, for men who wanted a Velasquez bought either a Velasquez or a
Mazos, and those who needed a Whistler bought Whistlers; and there was no art dealer willing to
push the young painter’s pictures. And he went to the Salon d’Automne in Paris, saw Matisse
and his followers, and scoffed; and presently he went again and, returning to his studio, he saw
there was no color in his pictures, and, more than that, no individuality. So he determined to
express himself. Now he is painting landscapes, and there are a spring scene of his at the Photo-
Secession and a tea table on a lawn, which, if you will only take the trouble to look at them for a
while and without prejudice, will tell you that Maurer has discovered an indiviual expression.
Some day he will return to figure painting. It will be interesting to see how he will express himself
then. Arthur Dove used to illustrate, but he went to Europe and was attacked by the epidemic
rather badly, too, judging from his picture of fruit, but as yet he has not expressed individuality.
But Lawrence Fellows has in his purely decorative pieces, mostly figures, in which he has not tried to
follow nature, used color in a broad and simple fashion, and of all this group of painters, with
the exception of Steichen, perhaps, appears to have got nearer his goal.

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