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(a) We know the principle of Neo-Impressionism or Pointillism as it was sketched by Pissarro, developed by Seurat, expounded by Paul Signac in his book, De Delacroix au Néo-Impressionnisme, with masterly clearness, and carried to its highest point of decorative expression by Signac himself and by H. E. Cross. Here the question is no longer one of merely separating the tones, as did the Impressionists, who, moreover, often mix them on their palette in order to obtain the effects demanded by nature, but instead, of isolating the touches themselves on the canvas, in order, at a distance, to provoke optical mingling and, by this procedure, to obtain the maximum of purity in coloration and in luminous intensity. This is the final effort of the spirit of analysis, the final expression of political anarchy, a principle scientifically exact and aesthetically dangerous, like all aesthetic principles. The artist takes one of the means of painting for the sole purpose of painting, and remains the prisoner of a technique which can no longer undergo variations or make progress.

(b) I could multiply examples. The most anarchic period, seen in its ensemble and from a distance, is always a single thing, for it runs in the movement of life for which the language of man is only a garment, more or less severe or uniform, or, on the contrary, shaded, overloaded, multicolored, and hesitating according to the diversity and the number of the needs, the tastes, and the fashions which contribute to its formation. No epoch has been richer in artists than ours. And all are admirable decorators—or would be if we knew how to utilize their passion. It is not more difficult to find these tendencies in the fiery sensuality of Dufrénoy than in the close and solid richness of Manguin, not more so in the logical and dense construction of painted matter which defines Charles Guérin, than in the patience of Lebasque when he embroiders his universe with a somewhat loose stitch; the tendencies are as marked in Jean Puy's constant striving toward purity of form as in the gift of sudden and complete evocation possessed by Laprade; as marked in the broad vision of color, a little dull and uncertain, with Camoin, as in the voluntary juxtaposition of tones and forms which give to the landscapes of Friesz both their intellectual and their chaotic aspect; and as marked, once more, in the concrete language and the sense of the intimate setting in the work of Albert André as in the meeting, dear to Francis Jourdain, of the most appropriate decorative style with the love of family life. They show quite as well in Flandrin, passing with a touch of melancholy from the studied graces of the eclogue to the pampered graces of the dance, as in Alfred Lombard, who is perhaps too much preoccupied with carrying his sumptuous gifts into the frame of a classicism, about which opinions may differ, and which is too narrow for him. The decorative tendencies are as manifest in certain drawings of Bernard Naudin, trembling and melancholy like leaves swept by the wind, as in many sketches by Maxime Dethomas, silent, neutral, and hallucinating, like apparitions, or in all the illustrations of Delaw, large as frescoes, touching as legends, and deep as the heart. With the productive, abundant, and indefatigable d'Espagnat, they cover earth and heaven with flowers and would suffice to define the sensuous optimism which, with Renoir, arose as a reaction from the naturalistic and romanticist despair. One breathes them also in the work of René Piot, surrounded by poisonous perfumes, sumptuous certainly, but vitiated by reminiscences of Florence, by literary intentions, and by Byzantine Platonism. One discovers them in the boldest efforts of the neo-constructors who react against them, Lhote, Bissière, and Lotiron. With some of those who claim descent from Cubism or who have been influenced by it, men like L. A. Moreau, Le Fauconnier, and Lurçat, they assume a grand aspect, a monumental one, so to speak, which can furnish painting with the most fecund resources. Corneau, Gabriel Fournier, Riou, and Portal hesitate to give them up. One surprises these tendencies again among the women painters, in an incipient stage, as they see things with a certain confusion in which the form and the backgrounds merge as if in a dark matrix swelling with heavy heat; thus the decorative appears in S. van Parys, Charmy, and especially in Louise Hervieu, in whose work it seems so astonished at being alive and so incredibly innocent, after our ten thousand years of rottenness and knowledge, and we see it in Marval, Blanchard, and especially in Marie Laurencin. One notices that foreign artists escape from it no more than Frenchmen, if one interrogates the work of van Dongen, the Hollander, the bestial poet of jewels and of rouge, and of the profound voice of the flesh where death and cruelty keep watch in the warm shadows of the arms and the mouths like carmine wounds; or the work of Iturrino, the Spaniard, monotonous and subtle, and arid as a dry earth where a few blood-red flowers grow among the stones; or the work of Vlaminck, the Belgian, which seems like burning mud; or that of Paresce, the Italian, sharp, acid, trenchant, pointed, and Florentine, without being aware of it, through the power of atavism; and the essays, at once convulsive and lucid, of the disconcerted Picasso, and the gigantic, ill-formed, and geometrical illuminations which grow out of the earth of Russia, whose images come to us in the confused, driving uproar composed of the sobs of famine and of despair, of the cries from murdered men, of the crackling of machine-guns, and also, doubtless, with the wailing of a new-born world. The Poles—Kisling, Mondzain, and Wittig—would seem, on the contrary, to be in reaction against the decorative tendencies. As to the sculptors, to whom Rodin had opened the way with his "Gate of Hell," almost all are following the decorative tendency—Bourdelle, Maillol, and Joseph Bernard, as we have seen, Halou, Abbal, Marque, Sabouraud, Durio, Hoetger, and Duchamp-Villon who was carried away before his time by the war, were beginning their reaction. Lipchitz continues that effort.

This movement, moreover, is only attaining its critical period, from which will come its expansion if the soil of society is favorable, or else its end. From the beginning of the nineteenth century, indeed, the great decoration, so little understood in the seventeenth century and almost abandoned in the eighteenth to make way for the intimate ornamentation of the bedroom and the boudoir, has tempted all the great painters, beginning with Delacroix. But the true initiator, as Maurice Denis has shown in his book. Théories, is Ingres. Directly or indirectly, almost all proceed from him, first his mediocre pupils, Hippolyte Flandrin, Jeanmot, the good Amaury-Duval, etc., and, at the other end of the movement, Anquetin, who promised so much, and Maurice Denis himself. Puvis de Chavannes, who first based his work on Delacroix, and then, very soon afterward, on Chassériau, certainly felt his influence, and also that of Corot. Mottez was a pupil of Ingres, and it was Ingres who had the younger man's fine portrait of a woman brought to Paris from the Villa Medici, where it was painted on a wall. Through this portrait, Mottez reintroduced into France the Italian fresco, which had been practically forgotten by the Italians themselves, and which, moreover, was perhaps but little suited to the climates of the north. Its resurrection is nevertheless a passionately interesting symptom of our return to architectural, impersonal, collective, and soon anonymous art. In our day, Paul Baudouin, who had not been able to convince his master, Puvis, has, one may say, theoretically and practically recreated fresco, after long years of ardent researches which were crowned by the resurrection, six or eight years ago, of the admirable book of Cennino Cennini. Following this, and sometimes with his advice Maurice Denis, René Piot, J. P. Lafitte (who afterward fell in the war), Dufrénoy, Alfred Lombard, Pierre Girieud, and Bourdelle have undertaken or finished great decorations in the Giottesque method. Once more, this is only a symptom, and perhaps destined to miscarry; but its significance is a moving one. It would be interesting to see what this admirable instrument would bring forth in the hands of decorators such as Bonnard or Vuillard, or Roussel, or Signac, or Valtat, or d'Espagnat, or Albert André, or Friesz, or Laprade, or Dufy, or Dufresne, or Lurçat, for whom, however, tapestry would seem better suited. Lurçat, moreover, has already made some impressive efforts in that direction.

(We may speak here only as a memory, of the innumerable official decorators from Louis Philippe to M. Poincaré. Their productions are no more concerned with painting than school books or works on archaeology are with literature. Among them there are good illustrators of history, of whom the most honest appears to have been M. Jean Paul Laurens in France, the best documented being Menzel in Germany, the most picturesque, Verestchagin in Russia, and the most ingenious, Brangwyn in England. There are many illustrators, in painting and in sculpture, whom people take for painters and sculptors. It is a matter of definition. . . The museum of Versailles is certainly worth a visit, and even several visits. . . But that is upon condition that one goes there to seek not painting, but history, or rather historical anecdotes. The leading illustrator of history is Daniel Vierge, the Spaniard, who was sometimes incomparable in his fire, his horror, mystery, and evocative violence, and whose compositions have the advantage of not encumbering the walls. While English and American illustrators are so numerous and so intelligent, in France the illustrators have almost disappeared, since the delightful masters of the eighteenth century, Eisen, the Saint-Aubins, Moreau the younger, Gravelot, and Prud'hon. However, there were Raffet, sometimes Charlet and Tony Johannot, and the pompousness of Doré cannot make us forget the fantastic magic of some of his plates. The romanticist reign of history having come to an end, certain of our contemporaries have attempted to animate the margins of novels and of poems—Bonnard, who brings to the task his fanciful freedom and his insinuating poetry, Laprade, Maurice Denis, Louise Hervieu, Naudin, Segonzac, and the admirable Delaw, the entertainer of innocent little children and of cultivated grown persons. The resurrection of wood engraving tends, moreover, to renew illustration.)

(c) Italian Futurism is only a systematization of these tendencies, and an anti-plastic one, at that.

(d) Cubism is only an artificial stylization of form, basing itself on a wrong understanding of the saying of Cézanne to which I made allusion above, and which had no other pretension than that of symbolizing his thought. Independent of its pretensions to restore form in a block, in all its dimensions, and without taking account of the reflections, it is the extreme of synthesis following upon the extreme analysis of the Neo-Impressionists. Like all systems, it can afford discipline for the painters. Dunoyer de Segonzac, Ozenfant, Lhote, L. A. Moreau, de la Fresnaye, Boussingault, le Fauconnier, and Metzinger became painters by going through or by skirting Cubism. Braque, Léger, and Juan Gris remain painters in spite of it, and Picasso, who was a painter before founding it, becomes one again as he leaves it. And all, having come to it in order the better to obey Cézanne, will detach themselves from it, thanks to him.

(e) The art of the portrait has perhaps constituted the most permanent strength of the French School— and I say "School" for lack of a better word. This art has known scarcely any decline for seven centuries. All the Gothic image-makers were admirable observers of the human face. Through the sculptors of the tombs, they reach out their hand to the painters of the Renaissance, Froment d'Avignon, Foucquet, Jean Perréal, Malouel, the anonymous men of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Clouets, and Corneille de Lyon, so penetrating, so sober, so mischievously candid, pointed, and clear cut, like the intelligence which characterizes and dissects, without thought of the social station, of the function, and of the tastes of those whom it examines, and who do not yet think of striking attitudes before it. In the seventeenth century, when Lagneau and Demonstier introduced their science, the psychological power of the old French masters enters the architectural frame of method with Poussin, Claude Lefebvre, Sébastien Bourdon, Le Brun, and Coyzevox. Thenceforward, the portrait assumes a density and a mass which, together with the whole spirit of the time, constitute the imposing block of the classic period, in which the resemblance and the savor of the object are even more striking, for anyone who can appreciate them, than the majestic order of the language which describes it, Rigaud, Largillière, and the Coustous cause the structural science of the great century to pass insensibly into those astonishing effigies of conversationalists, of artists, of philosophers, of abbés of the bedroom and the court, of favorites, and of ladies of fashion, through which La Tour, Drouais, Perronneau, Houdon, Greuze, Pajou, and Liotard of Geneva smilingly place upon the slope of the abyss which is opening, an aristocracy fatigued by its excess of mind. David prevents the psychological acuteness of the artists from wrecking itself amid fashionable fluency, and at the threshold of the nineteenth century, powerfully re-establishes, through his innumerable pupils, the compromised solidity of the portrait. After that, Ingres will need only to confide to this framework the plenitude of his sensual vision in order to transmit to the naturalistic generation the tradition of the old Frenchmen.

The nineteenth century, like all the great epochs—and it is, beyond all doubt, the greatest epoch in our painting—saw in the portrait only one of the multiple aspects of the life to be expressed, and its masters, Delacroix, Rude, Millet, Courbet, and especially Corot and Carpeaux, have done no more therein than follow, with a grand ease, the practice of the heroes, Raphael, Titian, Tintoretto, Rubens, Rembrandt, Velasquez, and Goya. From the fact that there are few "portrait-painters," although Ingres is one above all else, although a lesser but honorable painter, Fantin-Latour, is scarcely anything else, although certain startling medallions are all that save from oblivion the name of David d'Angers, although Rodin wrested from matter the most profound accents of the human face, although Cézanne discovered the firmest planes of its structure, and Degas the sharpest lines of its intellectual construction, one must not conclude that the nineteenth century is poorer in portraits than another. It has too many, and they are too close as "likenesses," which means, perhaps, that they might be closer. They swarm, from the gracious effigies of Baron Gérard to the honest photographs of M. Bonnat, from Winterhalter's puppets all dressed up in new clothes to the few pictures of bourgeois elegance painted by M. Carolus-Duran in his youth, and from the faces of Prud'hon, emerging from amorous shadow, to those of Ricard, which are a little bit lost in it, and to those of Carrière, which sometimes accumulate too much of it in their hollows in order thereby to make the projections stand out. In our day, it is doubtless Vuillard who represents the psychological tradition of the French portrait with the finest mind, and Mahn who represents it most faithfully. Moreover, the portrait, like the other plastic expressions, is undergoing the influence of the impressionistic and musical current and that of the architectural comment which, together, are destined to give to our epoch the accent which it will have for the future: Bonnard, like Vuillard, causes to circle around it his fugitive colorations, the shadows, the shadings, the reflections, and the murmurs; Vallotton works at it like a mason, with a morose obstinacy; Matisse brings it back, in its essentials, to decorative hues and tones; and Charles Pequin constructs it, like his landscapes and his still-lifes, with the purities and the sonorities of the violoncello, and with a feeling for the definitive significance of the face that is before him.

Outside of France, it appears to be especially in the art of the portrait that the English and the Americans have expended their superficial skill, with broad and creamy tones, in big, liquid brush-strokes, falsely robust and frank, of which Sargent is past master and which Whistler rebukes—happily for his memory—by causing to hover about his mysterious effigies the vague music of the half-tints and of the subtle arrangements of rare notes and shaded passages. The close resemblance of the faces, at once hollow and massive, of the Prussian Lenbach does not succeed in hiding his constant and meticulous padding out of his ostensible power. Zuloaga and La Gandara, the Spaniards, and Boldini, the Italian, vocalize and guitarrize—with their strength composed of theatrical make-up or with their grimacing impotence, and produce a fashionable art, which will leave strange psychological documents, less related to its models than to its authors. Evenepoel, the Belgian, who died too young, would doubtless have lived up to his promise. But we must wait for the profound effect of French painting in the nineteenth century, and of Cézanne and Renoir above all, on men of a strong and sincere nature. It is already manifest and salutary, as regards the art of the portrait, in the case of certain foreign artists among whom Rivera, the Mexican, seems to me the most interesting, at once because of his preoccupation with the architectural understructure and the turning volumes, wherein the double influence of the two French masters persists, and because of something unexpected, surprised, and phantomlike which makes clear his Spanish antecedents, manifested under the auspices of Goya and of Zurbarán.

(f) I fear that the multiplication of talents which we are witnessing to-day marks the end of the great French school of the nineteenth century. Painting and sculpture, moreover, are perhaps condemned to disappear in their present form and destination. The complexity of the soul and of the means of man increases from day to day. Who can foresee the destiny of an instrument like the cinematograph, for example? As symphonic painting succeeded melodic painting in flat tones, one may form an idea of a kind of cinematographic symphony succeeding the immobile symphony realized by the Venetians, the Hollanders, the Spaniards, and the French. Can one imagine the power of lyric exaltation which might be given to the mind by a succession of colored images painted by a Michael Angelo, or a Tintoretto, or a Rubens, or a Rembrandt, or a Goya, or a Delacroix, and precipitated into the drama of movement and of time by a registering apparatus?

(g) One of the most impressive testimonies to the disquietude of the artists, and to their need for drawing together and for understanding, is their disposition to write on their art and on the permanent or present tendencies of their art. This is common to all the artists of periods when systems change decisively—to the Italian universalists, the French, English, and German artists of the end of the eighteenth century, and to the passage from romanticism and materialism to the orientations of to-day. From Delacroix himself, and from Fromentin—even from Courbet!—to Rodin, to Carrière, and to Redon, there are few who have not yielded to the need to expound their intentions or those of the others. Mention must be made, in our day, of Louise Hervieu, Maurice Denis, Emile Bernard, Bourdelle, Matisse, Signac, d'Espagnat, Albert André, Ozenfant, Jeanneret, Gleizes, Metzinger, Bissière, Lhote, and especially J. E. Blanche, as writers on art of great distinction.

(h) Notably the elements of the perpendicular style, borrowed in greater part from the palaces of the Achemenides and from the Gothic style of southern France, the Palace of the Popes at Avignon, for example.

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