Universitätsbibliothek HeidelbergUniversitätsbibliothek Heidelberg

Studio: international art — 16.1899

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The Lay Figure and Exhibitions

THE LAY FIGURE AND EX- that a man writes in a journal does not make him
HIBITIONS. a journalist."
"We are wandering from the subject," said the
"I question very much," said the Man with a Clay Pipe. "We were considering ex-
Lay Figure, who had returned wearied out hibitions, and I am inclined to think that the painter,
from a long round of the galleries, " whether mixed great and small, would fare very badly without them."
exhibitions are to the advantage of art after all." "That argues a very poor knowledge of how the
"And I," broke in the Landscape Painter im- artist lives, by which I mean how ninety-nine in a
petuously, "am absolutely certain they are not to hundred artists live," exclaimed the Landscape
the advantage of the artist. The truth is, the artist Painter. " Even the greatly advertised artist has
does not really wish to see his work hanging on comparatively few patrons; quite a small number
the walls of an exhibition, because he knows the of persons bought Turner. I am purposely ex-
beauty of it lies in its completeness and oneness eluding the failures, in which category, by the way,
—and in its isolation." so far as worldly success goes, we must include
"For a frank confession of unalloyed egoism Albert Diirer, Jean Frangois Millet, and some of
commend me to that statement," said the Man the best painters of all time. What I maintain is,
with a Clay Pipe. " You mean to say that each that the number of persons who buy the works of
artist is so much in love with his own work, thinks any given painter, successful or unsuccessful, is in
his own child so precious, that is to say, that he almost every case extremely limited, and that these
cannot bear to see any one else's child near to it, buyers are not attracted by seeing pictures in
much less touch it." exhibitions, but by seeing them in their painters'
"I mean that if you like," answered the Land- studios. There's the truth pure and simple. Ex-
scape Painter a little sorrowfully, " but it is not so hibitions are for picture-seers, not for picture-
much that one is in love with one's own work buyers. I would make an exception in the case
because it is one's own. Even in the studio the ten- of one-man-shows now and again ; but that the
dency is to withdraw everything from the one picture picture-buyer concerns himself very little with
on the easel. As for egoism, the very nature of a mixed exhibitions I am convinced."
painter's work makes him an individualist." "Do you deny, then," said the Lay Figure,
"That may be," interjected the Portrait Painter "that exhibitions have an educational value for
defiantly; " but I can tell you some of us are not the public, even if they are a questionable benefit
so lucky as to be able to nurse our own indi- to painters ?"

viduality; we have to consider the precious indi- " Hang the educational value business ! " ex-

viduality, by which I mean the whims and vanities, claimed the Man with a Clay Pipe impatiently,

of our patrons—or starve. Were'it not for exhibi- "We've heard enough of that kind of cant lately

tions, do you think I should ever get a commission to last us for the rest of our natural lives."
worth having? The price is practically determined "That may be," said the Lay Figure good-

by the gallery, and place in that gallery, the picture humouredly. " I am holding no brief for the view,

occupies." I only want to know---"

"Precisely," said the Journalist. "It is all very "And I will tell you," broke in the Landscape

well to run down exhibitions, but I should like to Painter vehemently. " There are exhibitions—a

know where any of you painters would be without few—no doubt which have an educational value,

them. How are you to get known ? How make well-arranged selections of fine and harmonious

your prices unless you are written about; and how work, and certain one-man-shows. But the ordi-

can you be written about unless you exhibit ? nary scratch exhibition of good, bad, and in-

Exhibitions are the breath of your nostrils." different pictures simply confuses the public, who

" I am not so sure," interposed the Lay Figure, have no inherent standard to enable them to dis-

" that the papers do the sincere artist any particular criminate. The good work is swamped, or killed

service, though, of course, they may assist the mere outright; for it may be almost accepted as an

journalist in paint to find a market for his wares, axiom that good exhibition pictures are bad art."
What did the papers do for Turner, let us say ? " " The cry of the unsuccessful," growled the

" How about Ruskin ?" challenged the Man Journalist,
with a Clay Pipe. But the Lay Figure only laughed, and adroitly

"Surely," answered the Lay Figure, "Ruskin turned the conversation into another channel,
and the press are at the opposite poles. The fact The Lay Figure.