Studio: international art — 66.1915

Page: 296
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The Lay Figure

THE LAY FIGURE: ON ME-
MORIAL DECORATIONS.

“We were talking not long ago about the
great opportunity which will be offered directly to
sculptors,” said the Man with the Red Tie. “ Is
there to be no chance for the workers in other
branches of art ? ”

“ In what way do you mean ? ” asked the Art
Critic. “ If there is really going to be an art
revival, I hope that artists of all kinds will have a
part in it.”

“ You hope so ; well, so do I,” returned the Man
with the Red Tie; “ but what we hope is not
necessarily what we ought to expect. Of course
we hope and expect that architects will play a
prominent part in future developments, but I
should also like to see the painters and designers
taking their share in the creation of a record of the
great events in our history. But will the opportunity
be offered to them ? ”

“ I suppose they will make their own oppor-
tunities,” broke in the Plain Man. “There will
be lots of pictures directly of war incidents; I am
sure that before very long the exhibitions will be
full of them.”

“ And there, I suppose, it will end,” sighed the
Man with the Red Tie. “ Some of these pictures,
perhaps, will be bought for public galleries, a few
more will be buried in private collections, and the
rest—well, you know what happens to pictures that
nobody wants.”

“ I see what you are driving at. You think the
easel picture is not a sufficiently permanent record,”
said the Critic. “ You want something more lasting
and more ambitious, something that will impress
itself more decisively upon the public and that will
be more monumental and therefore more worthy
of the occasion.”

“Precisely! You grasp my idea,” declared the
Man with the Red Tie. “ I want to see the
pictorial art used as seriously as the art of the
sculptor for memorial purposes. I want to see
our decorators working side by side with our
sculptors in the glorification of our national
sacrifices and achievements. I want pictures
produced that will stand to our credit with
future generations.”

“You want a lot,” laughed the Plain Man.
“ But where are you going to put them ? ”

“ In every public building in which the business
of the community is carried on. In every place in
which the people come together for any public pur-
pose,” replied the Man with the Red Tie. “I want
296

the record to be all about us and to be constantly
before our eyes.”

“ Mural decorations ! Is that what you mean ? ”
cried the Plain Man. “ What is the use of them ?
Who ever looks at them; and, if it comes to that,
what men have we got, who can do them decently ? ”

“ Lots of artists,” exclaimed the Critic ; “ if you
will only give them the chance to show what they
can do. You cannot expect a great school of
decorators to exist and flourish if you offer them
no scope for the practice of their art; but provide
them with the opportunities and there are plenty
of men who will be equal to any demand you like
to make on them.”

“But I have always understood that the chief
reason why there is no demand for mural decoration
in this country is that wall-paintings will not stand
our climate,” objected the Plain Man. “ What is
the use of spending money on things that will not
last ? ”

“ That is a lame excuse for the neglect of a very
important branch of design,” said the Critic.
“ There are technical processes available which are
quite permanent and can be thoroughly depended
upon. No, the real trouble is that in this country
we do not appreciate the artistic importance of
mural decoration, and we do nothing to help on its
development as a form of art practice—nothing,
that is to say, comparable with what is being done
in America, for instance.”

“ And my argument is that the time has come
for a complete change in our attitude towards it,”
added the Man with the Red Tie.

“ An argument which I sincerely endorse,” agreed
the Critic. “We have artists capable of doing the
finest type of work; we have technical processes
which will serve them admirably and which have
borne well the test of experience; all we want now
is healthy and intelligent encouragement from the
people who have the right kind of influence.
There are plenty of subjects available now for the
most important memorial decorations; there are
acres of wall-space waiting to be filled. What a
sin it would be to let such a special opportunity
slip by ! ”

“I do not see that it is any business of mine, ’
grumbled the Plain Man.

“ There you are ! ” cried the Man with the Red
Tie. “ It is not your business, so I suppose some-
one else must attend to it. But can’t you make it
your business, and see that it is carried out properly ?
Wake up, man! It is quite time you did some-
thing for the good of art.”

The Lay Figure,
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