Camera Work: A Photographic Quarterly — 1912 (Heft 39)

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ability. All this is meaningless to the individual appreciator. It is, alas, not
only Matisse they do not understand. Nearly all pioneers of eminence share
that fate. Nor is there any harm in opposition. A blank smooth surface can
have no blemishes; any corrugation and discoloration can lend it a character
of its own.
Matisse is the logical sequence of art events. Modern art is tame and
frangible. It rarely vibrates with personal magnetism, solely with color.
Painters are too busy with the conquest of technique. A paysage intime9 or
ladies sitting on a piazza represent the pinnacles of visual expoliation. If it
attempts more, it generally becomes grossly illustrative. It is all grace of
movement, charm of fancy, felicity of expression, the ideals of the bourgeoisie.
Glance for a moment at the Old Masters, at a Tintoretto, Ribera, Rubens,
Goya, just to mention a few. What a contrast! One can persuade oneself that
some of their paintings were painted by them with fleeting eyes and foaming
mouths. They show the flotsam of the soul; mental upheavals—the miry
understrata of the soul.
It is not so much the expression of human passion as the product of pas-
sion itself. Matisse comes from the same lineage. Tainted as his art is with
affectation, it has all been lived through, and deeply felt. He is a man who
has knowledge and who expounds it with a tremendous force. His work
glows as if fresh from the crucible. What you or I, or the public thinks of it,
what does that matter? Art justifies its own ends. It is of no importance what-
soever whether you or I understand this whim of transforming the face and bust
of a plain looking girl into a caricature, and thence into a skeletonized enigma
of their most characteristic structural traits. That the public has a right to
demand certain things from an artist, as lucidity, ethical dignity, for instance,
is a most foolish and sorrowful contention. The artist is his own master.
The public patronizes not out of any love for art (with the exception of ex-
ceptional connoisseurs perhaps) but merely because it is fond of luxuries,
pastime and sport. What right then has it to dictate? All it has a right to
expect is that the artist is a producer who possesses the inborn or acquired
gift to express a vision of beauty to others. Art is the outcome of a mood of
inspiration. Inspiration is sustained by strength. Creation demands vigor
and endurance, reliance upon one’s own resources and impregnability against
interference from outside. The artist who is so valiantly equipped takes no
heed of the public, nor even of his fellow artists. He smashes and kicks in the
doors of tradition. He exerts the Faustrecht of superior mentality. His
conviction will neither break nor yield. He looms in rugged outlines and
gorgeous color by the sheer magnificence of his self-assurance. Buoyed up by
the conviction that he lives to accomplish a great task he works—happy
mortal!—because he likes the work. He sets himself a problem and tries to
solve it for himself. He struggles and experiments—not necessarily to im-
prove his art—but to develop it, to make it more and more, no matter how
tentative and confused it may look to the beholder, the expression of his visual
appreciation of beauty, from the angle of which he regards the manifestations
of life, the one thing which is of value to him and possibly may be to others.
It is what he feels and must say, and what he manages to say. And that is
all that an artist can do. Sadakichi Hartmann.

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