Camera Work: A Photographic Quarterly — 1914 (Heft 47)

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Dear Stieglitz:
I am sorry I cannot write a fitting appreciation of the modern elixir you
are giving America—your foresight has gripped the imagination of the coun-
try with the vitality and eloquence of the vocational movement in art.

Arthur B. Davies

October 27, 1914.

The question, “What is ‘291’?” leaves one in the same position in
explaining it as the modern painter is in explaining his painting. The
modern painting does not present any definite object. Neither does
“291” represent any definite movement in one direction, such as Socialism,
Suffrage, etc. Perhaps it is these movements having but one direction that
makes life at present so stuffy and full of discontent.
There could be no “291 ism.” “291” takes a step further and stands
for orderly movement in all directions; in other words it is what the observer
sees in it—an idea to the nth power.
One means used at “291” has been a process of elimination of the non-
essential. This happens to be one of the important principles in modern
art; therefore “291” is interested in modern art.
It was not created to promote modern art, photography, nor modern
literature. That would be a business and “291” is not a shop.
It is not an organization that one may join. One either belongs or does
It has grown and outgrown in order to grow. It grew because there
was a need for such a place, yet it is not a place.
Not being a movement, it moves, so do “race horses,” and some people,
and “there are all sorts of sports,” but no betting. It is finer to find than
to win.
This seems to be “291” or is it Stieglitz?
Arthur G. Dove

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