Since Cezanne
Clive Bell

Part 3 out of 3

a reaction as delicate and enthusiastic as that of an English poet.
Only, unlike most English painters, he would never dream of jotting it
down and leaving it at that. Such hit-or-miss frivolity is not in his
way. He is no amateur. He takes his impressions home and elaborates
them; he brings his intellect to bear on them; and, as this exhibition
shows, without robbing them of their bloom, makes of them something
solid and satisfying. To realize what a power this is we may, I hope
without indiscretion, glance for an instant at another handsomely
endowed French painter. That M. Lhote does not want for sensibility is
shown by his sketches and water-colours, that his intellect is sharp
enough is proved by his writings; but the devitalized rectitude of his
more ambitious pieces shows how appallingly difficult it is to bring
intellect to bear on sensibility without crushing it. The failure of M.
Lhote is the measure of M. Friesz's achievement.

If I am right, it is only natural that pictures by Friesz should improve
on acquaintance. The studied logic of the composition may for a time
absorb the spectator's attention and blind him to more endearing
qualities; but, sooner or later, he will begin to perceive not only that
a scrupulously honest vision has been converted into a well-knit design,
but that the stitches are lovely. In every part he will be discovering
subtle and seductive harmonies and balances of which the delicacy dawns
on him as he gazes. The more he looks the more will he get of that
curiously gratifying thrill which comes of the recognition of
unostentatious rightness.

But, though he offers the sensitive amateur an unusually generous
allowance of the amateur's most delicate pleasure, Friesz is, above all,
a painters' painter. He has been called a theorist. And, because he is a
painter of exceptionally good understanding, who thinks logically about
his art and can find words for what he thinks, I suppose the appellation
is admissible. But, remember, he never dreams of trying to convert his
theories of art into theories of life. His are not of the kind that can
be so converted; I said he was a painters', not a journalists', painter.
Also, unlike the theories of the mere craftsman, his are based always
on the assumption that there is such a thing as art--something that
is created by and appeals to peculiar faculties, something rare and
personal, something not to be had simply by taking thought and pains,
something as utterly unlike honest craftsmanship as it is unlike the
cryptic mutterings of boozy mountebanks: subject, however, to this
assumption, his theories are severely practical. They have to do solely
with the art of painting; they are born of his own experience; and
he makes visible use of them. That is why I call Friesz a painters'
painter. I wonder whether the Italian Primitives, with that
disquietingly unself-conscious inspiration of theirs, directed with such
amazing confidence along well devised, practical channels, were not a
little like him.

The exhibition is fairly representative of Friesz's later work; and if
it cannot be said quite to summarize a stage of his career, at least it
is a milestone. Friesz has arrived: that is to say, what he has already
achieved suffices to affirm the existence of a distinct, personal talent
entitled to its place in the republic of painting. At that point we
leave him. But we may be sure that, with his remarkable gift and
even more remarkable power of turning it to account, his energy, his
patience, and his manifest ambition, he will soon have gone beyond it.


To return from Paris, full of enthusiasm for contemporary art, and find
oneself forced immediately into an attitude of querulous hostility is
surely a melancholy thing. It is my fate; but it is not my fault. Had I
found our native quidnuncs in a slightly less exalted humour, had they
gushed a little less over their imperial painters at Burlington House,
had they made the least effort to preserve a sense of proportion, I,
for my part, had held my peace. But, deafened by the chorus of hearty
self-applause with which British art has just been regaling itself, [W] a
critic who hopes that his country is not once again going to make itself
the laughing-stock of Europe is bound at all risks to say something

[Footnote W: February 1920.]

In that delightful book _The Worlds and I_, for bringing me acquainted
with which I shall ever be grateful to _The Athenaeum_, nothing is more
delightful than the chapter in which Mrs. Wilcox takes us through the
list of the great writers she has known. We are almost as much pleased
by the authoress's confident expectation that we shall be thrilled
to learn any new fact about Miss Aldrich, who wrote "one of the most
exquisite lyrics in the language"; about Rhoda Hero Dunn, "a genius"
with "an almost Shakespearean quality in her verse," or about Elsa
Barker, whose poem _The Frozen Grail_, "dedicated to Peary and his band,
is an epic of august beauty," and whose sonnet _When I am Dead_ "ranks
with the great sonnets of the world," as she would be surprised to
discover that we had never heard of one of them. Mrs. Wilcox believed,
in perfect good faith, that the crowd of magazine-makers with whom she
associated were, in fact, the great figures of the age. She had no
reason for supposing that we should not be as much interested in
first-hand personal gossip about Zona Gale and Ridgeley Torrence, Arthur
Grissom (first editor of the _Smart Set_), Judge Malone, Theodosia
Garrison, and Julie Opp Faversham ("even to talk with whom over the
telephone gives me a sense of larger horizons") as we should have been
in similar gossip about Swinburne and Hardy, Henry James and Mallarme,
Laforgue, Anatole France, Tolstoy, Tchekov, or Dostoevsky.

And, as Mrs. Wilcox had no reason for supposing that her friends were
not the greatest writers alive, what reason had she for supposing that
they were not the greatest that ever lived? Without the taste, the
intelligence, or the knowledge which alone can give some notion of
what's what in art, she was obliged to rely on more accessible criteria.
The circulation of her own works, for instance, must have compared
favourably with that of most poets. To be sure there was Shakespeare and
the celebrated Hugo--or was it Gambetta? But what grounds could there be
for thinking that she was not superior to the obscure John Donne or the
obscurer Andrew Marvel, or to Arthur Rimbaud, of whom no one she had
ever heard of had ever heard? Mrs. Wilcox was not dishonest in assuming
that the most successful writer in her set was the best in the world;
she was not conceited even; she was merely ridiculous.

It is disquieting to find the same sort of thing going on in England,
where our painters are fiercely disputing with each other the crown of
European painting, and our critics appraising the respective claims
of Mr. Augustus John and Mr. John Nash as solemnly as if they were
comparing Cezanne with Renoir. It is more than disquieting, it is
alarming, to detect symptoms of the disease--this distressing disease
of Wilcoxism--in _The Athenaeum_ itself. Yet I am positive that not long
since I read in this very paper that Mr. Wyndham Lewis was more than a
match for Matisse and Derain; and, having said so much, the critic not
unnaturally went on to suggest that he was a match for Lionardo da
Vinci. Since then I have trembled weekly lest the infection should have
spread to our literary parts. Will it be asserted, one of these Fridays,
that the appetizing novels of Mr. Gilbert Cannan are distinctly better
than Hardy's Wessex tales, and comparable rather with the works of Jane

To save ourselves from absurdity, and still more to save our painters
from inspissating that trickle of fatuity which wells from heads swollen
with hot air, critics should set themselves to check this nasty malady.
Let them make it clear that to talk of modern English painting as though
it were the rival of modern French is silly. In old racing days--how
matters stand now I know not--it used to be held that French form was
about seven pounds below English: the winner of the Derby, that is to
say, could generally give the best French colt about that weight and a
beating. In painting, English form is normally a stone below French. At
any given moment the best painter in England is unlikely to be better
than a first-rate man in the French second class. Whistler was never a
match for Renoir, Degas, Seurat, and Manet; but Whistler, Steer, and
Sickert may profitably be compared with Boudin, Jongkind, and Berthe
Morisot. And though Duncan Grant holds his own handsomely with Marchand,
Vlaminck, Lhote, de Segonzac, Bracque and Modigliani, I am not yet
prepared to class him with Matisse, Picasso, Derain, and Bonnard.

Having bravely recognized this disagreeable truth, let us take as much
interest in contemporary British painting as we can. I will try to
believe that it merits more enthusiasm than I have been able to show,
provided it is not made a point of patriotism to excite oneself about
the Imperial War Museum's pictures exhibited at Burlington House. As
a matter of fact, the most depressing thing about that show was the
absence of the very quality for which British art has been most justly
admired--I mean sensibility. Mr. Wilson Steer's picture seemed to me the
best in the place, just because Mr. Steer has eyes with which, not only
to see, but to feel. To see is something; Mr. Steer also feels for what
he sees; and this emotion is the point of departure for his pictures.
That he seems almost completely to have lost such power as he ever
had of giving to his vision a coherent and self-supporting form is
unfortunate; still, he does convey to us some modicum of the thrill
provoked in him by his vision of Dover Harbour.

Those thoughtful young men, on the other hand, whose works have been
causing such a commotion might almost as well have been blind. They seem
to have seen nothing; at any rate, they have not reacted to what they
saw in that particular way in which visual artists react. They are not
expressing what they feel for something that has moved them as artists,
but, rather, what they think about something that has horrified them
as men. Their pictures depart, not from a visual sensation, but from a
moral conviction. So, naturally enough, what they produce is mere "arty"
anecdote. This, perhaps, is the secret of their success--their success,
I mean, with the cultivated public. Those terrible young fellows
who were feared to be artists turn out after all to be innocent
Pre-Raphaelites. They leave Burlington House without a stain upon their

This is plain speaking; how else should a critic, who believes that he
has diagnosed the disease, convince a modern patient of his parlous
state? To just hint a fault and hesitate dislike (not Pope, but I split
that infinitive) is regarded nowadays merely as a sign of a base,
compromising spirit; or not regarded at all. Artists, especially in
England, cannot away with qualified praise or blame: and if they insist
on all or nothing I can but offer them the latter. Nevertheless, I must
assert, for my own satisfaction, that in many even of our most imperial
artists, in the brothers Spenser and the brothers Nash, in Mr. Lewis,
Mr. Roberts, Mr. Bomberg, and Mr. Lamb, I discover plenty of ability;
only I cannot help fancying that they may have mistaken the nature of
their gifts. Were they really born to be painters? I wonder. But of this
I am sure: their friends merely make them look silly by comparing them
with contemporary French masters, or even with Lionardo da Vinci.

Wilcoxism is a terrible disease because it slowly but surely eats away
our sense of imperfection, our desire for improvement, and our power
of self-criticism. Modesty and knowledge are the best antidotes; and a
treatment much recommended by the faculty is to take more interest in
art and less in one's own prestige. Above all, let us cultivate a sense
of proportion. Let us admire, for instance, the admirable, though
somewhat negative, qualities in the work of Mr. Lewis--the absence of
vulgarity and false sentiment, the sobriety of colour, the painstaking
search for design--without forgetting that in the Salon d'Automne or the
Salon des Independants a picture by him would neither merit nor obtain
from the most generous critic more than a passing word of perfunctory
encouragement; for in Paris there are perhaps five hundred men and
women--drawn from the four quarters of the earth--all trying to do what
Mr. Lewis tries to do, and doing it better.


Mr. Roger Fry, by means of an instructive tale (_Athenaeum_, August
13, 1920), has shown us that in their dealings with art Bolshevik
politicians remain true to type. Like the rest of their breed, they have
no use for it unless they can exploit it to their own ends. For my part,
I was never so simple as to suppose that, if the _de facto_ government
of Russia professed admiration for Matisse and Picasso, that admiration
had anything to do with the artistic gifts of either of these painters,
any more than that the respect with which the British Government treats
the names of Raphael and Michel Angelo should be taken to imply that any
single one of His Majesty's ministers has ever experienced an aesthetic
emotion. Consequently, I was not at all surprised to learn that the
sure, though unconscious, taste of the statesman had led the rulers of
Russia to reject their first loves; that instinctively they had divined
that both Matisse and Picasso were too much like genuine artists to be
trustworthy; and that they had, therefore, transferred their affections
to the thin, and fundamentally academic, work of Larionoff, which
should, I fancy, be just the thing for advanced politicians.

Some time ago, however, before Picasso was found out, a young Russian
aesthete--so Mr. Fry tells us--was licensed by the competent authority to
pronounce that artist's eulogy, on the understanding, of course, that
the lecture should somehow serve as a stick wherewith to beat the
opposition. Nothing easier: Picasso was pitted against Renoir. Picasso
was a great artist, because, abstract and austere, he was the man for
the proletariat; whereas Renoir, who painted pretty pictures for the
_bourgeoisie_, was no earthly good. The lecturer, as might have been
expected, was out even in his facts: for Renoir--who came from the
people, by the way--might, were he less of an artist, by means of the
taking and almost anecdotic quality of his earlier work, give some
pleasure to a working man; whereas Picasso--the son of middle-class
parents, too--could not possibly win from an honest labourer, left to
himself, anything but sarcastic laughter or ferocious abuse. But even if
true, the lecturer's facts would have been beside the point. To say
that a work is aristocratic or democratic, moral or immoral, is to say
something silly and irrelevant, or rather, silly if meant to be relevant
to its value as art. In the work of Renoir and of Picasso, in all works
of art for that matter, the essential quality, as every sensitive person
knows, is the same. Whatever it may be that makes art matter is to be
found in every work that does matter. And though, no doubt, "subject"
and to some extent "attack" may be conditioned by an artist's opinions
and attitude to life, such things are irrelevant to his work's final
significance. Strange as it may seem, the essential quality in a work of
art is purely artistic. It has nothing to do with the moral, religious,
or political views of its creator. It has to do solely with his aesthetic
experience and his power of expressing that. But, as no politician is
capable of appreciating, or even becoming aware of, this essential
quality, it is perhaps only natural that politicians should look
elsewhere for the significance of art.

This painful but certain fact once grasped, it becomes possible to
understand several things that have considerably puzzled critics and
historians. For instance, it is often remarked, and generally with
surprise, that progressive politicians are commonly averse to new
movements in art. The attitude of the present Russian Government to the
contemporary movement makes neither for nor against this view, for that
novelty it took over as a going concern. Let us see how it looks on the
next, which will be very likely a return to the tradition of Ingres.
The example usually cited by exponents of this theory--that progressive
politicians are reactionary in art--is the notorious hostility of
Liberals to the romantic movement; but I believe that were they to study
closely the histories of the Impressionist, the Pre-Raphaelite, and the
Wagnerian movements they would find in them, too, evidence on the whole
favourable to their case. Be that as it may, this theory, which once
seemed paradoxical, quite loses its fantastic air when considered in the
light of our discovery. Had art anything to do with opinion it would be
strange, indeed, if new art were ill-received by those who like their
opinions new. But as art has nothing whatever to do with such things
there is no more reason why a Radical should like new forms of art than
why he should like new brands of tea.

The essential qualities of a work of art are purely artistic; and since
politicians, if not too coarse by nature, soon make themselves so by
practice, to apprehend these they must, unless they can leave art alone,
seek its significance in what is unessential. Progressive politicians,
who have a way of taking ethics under their wing and even conceive
themselves the active promoters of good, are apt to seek it in morals.
One might have supposed that a message was to be found as easily in
new forms of art as in old; but, unluckily, new forms are to most
incomprehensible. And though to a hardened sinner here and there what
is incomprehensible may be nothing worse than disconcerting, to him
who seeks good in all things, and is constantly on the look-out for
uplifting influences, whatever disappoints this longing is positively
and terribly evil. Now, a new and genuine work of art is something
unmistakably alive and, at the same time, unprovided, as yet, with moral
credentials. It is unintelligible without being negligible. It comes
from an unfamiliar world and shakes a good man's belief in the obvious.
It must be very wicked. And the proper reaction to what is wicked is a
blind fury of moral indignation. Well, blind fury is blind. So no one
could be much worse placed than the political moralist for seeing
whatever there may be to be seen in what is, at once, strange and

We are in a position now to clear up another difficulty, which has
distressed so deeply the best and wisest of men that to get rid of
it some have felt justified in tampering with the truth. If art had
anything to do with politics, evidently art should have flourished most
gloriously in those ages of political freedom which do us all so much
credit. The necessity of this inference has been felt strongly enough by
Liberal historians to make them accept without demur the doctrine that
the age of Pericles was the great age of visual art, and repeat it
without mentioning the fact that in that age an aristocracy of some
twenty-five thousand citizens was supported by the compulsory labours of
some four hundred thousand slaves. The truth is, of course, that art may
flourish under any form of government. It flourished in the Athenian
aristocracy and under the despotic bureaucracies of China, Persia, and
Byzantium. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries it flourished under
the feudal system, and in the fifteenth amongst the oligarchies and
tyrannies of Italy. On the other hand, neither the Roman Republic nor
the Roman Empire gave us anything much worth remembering: and no period
in French history has been less fruitful in art and letters than the
first republic and empire. There was Ingres, of course; but the period
on the whole was singularly barren, and it may be just worth remarking
that at no time, perhaps, has French art been so academic, professorial,
timid, and uninspired as in the first glorious years of the great

Here there is nothing to surprise us. But what does, at first sight,
seem odd is that art should apparently be indifferent, not only to
political systems, but to social conditions as well. Barbarism or
Civilization: it is all one to art. Old-fashioned historians, who had a
pleasant, tidy way of dealing with the past, used to plot out from that
wilderness four great periods of civilization: the Athenian (from 480
B.C. to the death of Aristotle, 322), the first and second centuries of
the Roman Empire, Italy in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries,
and from the end of the Fronde, 1653, to the Revolution. For my part, I
should be inclined to subtract from these the Roman period, and add, if
only I knew more about it, the age of Sung. But accepting, by way of
compromise, all five, we find that three--the Greek, Chinese, and
Italian--were rich in visual art, whereas Rome was utterly barren and
the eighteenth century not extraordinarily prolific. To make matters
worse, we see in the dark and early middle ages a steady flow of
first-rate art from societies more or less barbarous, while lately we
have learnt that black and naked savages can create exquisitely.

Are we, then, to assume that there is no connection between art and
civilization? I think not. A connection there is, but, as was to
be expected, an unessential one. The essential quality in art is
invariable, and what gives the Parthenon its significance is what gives
significance to a nigger's basket-work box. There is such a thing as
civilized art, but its civility lies in adventitious and subsidiary
qualities--in the means, not in the end. It seems to me we do mean
something when we say that Phidias, Sophocles, and Aristophanes,
Raphael, Racine, Moliere, Poussin, Milton, Wren, Jane Austen and Mozart
are highly civilized artists, and that the creators of the Gothic
cathedrals and the author of the _Chanson de Roland_, Villon, Webster,
Rembrandt, Blake, Wordsworth, Emily Bronte, Whitman, Turner, Wagner
and the Congolese fetish-makers are not. But, whatever we may mean,
assuredly we do not mean that one set is superior to the other. They
differ widely; but they differ in the means by which they compass the
same end. It is absurd to argue that civilization is either favourable
or unfavourable to art; but it is reasonable to suppose that it may be
the one or the other to a particular artist. Different temperaments
thrive in different atmospheres. How many mute, inglorious Miltons,
Raphaels, and Mozarts may not have lost heart and gone under in the
savage insecurity of the dark ages? And may not the eighteenth
century, which clipped the wings of Blake, have crushed the fluttering
aspirations of a dozen Gothically-minded geniuses and laughed some
budding Wagner out of all idea of expressing his ebullient personality?

It is possible to speak of civilized or uncivilized art and mean
something by our words; but what we mean has nothing to do with the
ultimate value of the work. And, in the same way, there may be an
unessential connection between art and politics, though more remote and
unimportant still. As I have explained too often already, an artist,
before he can create effectively, has got to work himself into a
passion; by some means he has got to raise his feelings to the creative
temperature and his energies to a corresponding pitch of intensity. He
must make himself drunk somehow, and political passion is as good
a tipple as another. Religion, Science, Morals, Love, Hate, Fear,
Lust--all serve the artist's turn, and Politics and Patriotism have done
their bit. It is clear that Wordsworth was thrown into the state of mind
in which he wrote his famous sonnets by love of England and detestation
of France, by fear of revolution and longing for order; but how much
patriotism or constitutionalism has to do with the suave beauty of those
harmonious masterpieces may be inferred from the fact that "hoarse
Fitzgerald" and Mr. Kipling are quite as patriotic and even more
reactionary. Amongst painters David is the conspicuous example of an
artist--a small one, to be sure--intoxicated by politics. David set
out as a humble, eighteenth-century follower of Fragonard. But the
Revolution filled his poor head with notions about the Greeks and the
Romans, Harmodius and Aristogiton, Cornelia and the Gracchi, _sic semper
tyrannis_, and Phrygian caps. And his revolutionary enthusiasm changed
the whole manner of his attack on that central, artistic problem which
never, in any style, did he succeed in solving. But the influence of
this new style was immense, and paramount in French painting for the
next forty or fifty years. It is to be noted, however, that David's
great and immediate follower, the mighty Ingres, who frankly adopted
this style, redolent of all republican virtues, was himself one of the
most virulent reactionaries that ever lived.

And that, perhaps, would be all that needed saying about Art and
Politics were it not that at this moment the subject has an unusual
importance. Movements in art have, more often than not, been the result
of an extraordinarily violent preoccupation, on the part of artists,
with the unessential and insignificant. David rescued painting from
the charming and slightly sentimental disorder of the later eighteenth
century by concentrating on Roman virtues and generals' uniforms. The
Romantics freed themselves from Davidism by getting frantically excited
about a little hazy nonsense rather unfairly attributed to Lord Byron
and Sir Walter Scott. From this the Impressionists escaped by persuading
themselves that they were men of science. And against this my
contemporaries set up a conscious aestheticism, slightly tinged with
certain metaphysico-moral doctrines concerning the cowiness of cows and
the thing in itself. With Cubism conscious aestheticism holds the field,
for the Cubist theory is, in the main, aesthetic. That is one reason why
I cannot think that there is any great future for Cubism. An artistic
movement is unlikely to live long on anything so relevant to art; for
artists, it seems, must believe that they are concerned with something
altogether different. Wherefore, I think it not improbable--indeed,
there are indications already [X]--that, political progress having in the
last few years somewhat outrun civilization, and the new democracy being
apparently hostile to art and culture, artists will take to believing
passionately in what they will call "order." If so, in the name of
Napoleon and Louis XIV, but, let us hope, with the science and restraint
of Poussin and Ingres, they will turn, most likely, to the classical
tradition and, while endeavouring to create significant form, will
assert vehemently that they are expressing their political convictions.

[Footnote X: September 1920.]

[Illustration: DERAIN (_Photo: Bernheim jeune_)]


Sooner or later the critic who wishes to be taken seriously must say his
word about Derain. It is an alarming enterprise. Not only does he run a
considerable risk of making himself absurd, he may make a formidable
and contemptuous enemy as well. "On ne peut pas me laisser tranquille!"
grumbles Derain; to which the only reply I can think of is--"on ne peut

Derain is now the greatest power amongst young French painters. I would
like to lay stress on the words "power" and "French," because I do not
wish to say, what may nevertheless be true, that Derain is the greatest
painter in France, or seemingly to forget that Picasso's is the
paramount influence in Europe. For all their abjurations most of the
younger and more intelligent foreigners, within and without the gates of
Paris, know well enough that Picasso is still their animator. Wherever a
trace of Cubism or of _tete-de-negre_, or of that thin, anxious line of
the "blue period" is still to be found, there the ferment of his unquiet
spirit is at work. And I believe it is in revolt against, perhaps in
terror of, this profoundly un-French spirit that the younger Frenchmen
are seeking shelter and grace under the vast though unconscious
nationalism of Derain.

For the French have never loved Cubism, though Braque uses it
beautifully. How should they love anything so uncongenial to their
temperament? How should that race which above all others understands and
revels in life care for an art of abstractions? How, having raised good
sense to the power of genius, should France quite approve aesthetic
fanaticism? What would Poussin have said to so passionate a negation of
common sense? Well, happily, we know the opinion of Moliere:

La parfaite raison fuit toute extremite,
Et veut que l'on soit sage avec sobriete.

Did ever Frenchmen sympathize absolutely with Don Quixote? At any rate,
because at the very base of his civilization lies that marvellous sense
of social relations and human solidarity, a French artist will never
feel entirely satisfied unless he can believe that his art is somehow
related to, and justified by, Life.

Now, Picasso is not Spanish for nothing. He is a mystic; which, of
course, does not prevent him being a remarkably gay and competent man of
the world. Amateurs who knew him in old days are sometimes surprised to
find Picasso now in a comfortable flat or staying at the Savoy. I should
not be surprised to hear of him in a Kaffir kraal or at Buckingham
Palace, and wherever he might be I should know that under that urbane
and slightly quizzical surface still would be kicking and struggling the
tireless problem. That problem his circumstances cannot touch. It has
nothing to do with Life; for not only was Picasso never satisfied with a
line that did not seem right in the eyes of God--of the God that is in
him, I mean--but never would it occur to him that a line could be right
in any other way. For him Life proves nothing and signifies not much;
it is the raw material of art. His problem is within; for ever he is
straining and compelling his instrument to sing in unison with that
pitiless voice which in El Greco's day they called the voice of God.
Derain's problem is different, and perhaps more exacting still.

It seems odd, I know, but I think it is true to say that Derain's
influence over the younger Frenchmen depends as much on his personality
as on his pictures. Partly this may be because his pictures are not much
to be seen; for he is neither prolific not particularly diligent, and
always there are half a dozen hungry dealers waiting to snap up whatever
he may contrive to finish. But clearly this is not explanation enough,
and to appreciate Derain's position in Paris one should be, what
unluckily I am not, a psychologist. One should be able to understand why
his pictures are imitated hardly at all, and why his good opinion is
coveted; why young painters want to know what Derain thinks and feels,
not only about their art, but about art in general, and even about life;
and why instinctively they pay him this compliment of supposing that he
does not wish them simply to paint as he paints. What is it Derain wants
of them? I shall be satisfied, and a good deal surprised, if I can
discover even what he wants of himself.

A year or two ago it was the fashion to insist on Derain's descent from
the Italian Primitives: I insisted with the rest. But as he matures his
French blood asserts more and more its sovranty, and now completely
dominates the other elements in his art. Assuredly he is in the great
European tradition, but specifically he is of the French: Chardin,
Watteau, and Poussin are his direct ancestors. Of Poussin no one who saw
_La Boutique Fantasque_ will have forgotten how it made one think. No
one will have forgotten the grave beauty of those sober greys, greens,
browns, and blues. They made one think of Poussin, and of Racine, too.
And yet the ballet was intensely modern; always you were aware that
Derain had been right through the movement--through Fauvism, Negroism,
Cubism. Here was an artist who had refused nothing and feared nothing.
Could anyone be less of a reactionary and at the same time less of
an anarchist? And, I will add, could anyone be less _gavroche_? _La
Boutique Fantasque_, which is not only the most amusing, but the most
beautiful, of Russian ballets, balances on a discord. Even the fun of
Derain is not the essentially modern fun of Massine. Derain is neither
flippant nor exasperated; he is humorous, and tragic sometimes.

English criticism is puzzled by Derain because very often it is
confronted by things of his which seem dull and commonplace, to English
critics. These are, in fact, the protests of Derain's genius against
his talent, and whether they are good or not I cannot say. Derain has a
super-natural gift for making things: give him a tin kettle and in half
a morning he will hammer you out a Summerian head; he has the fingers
of a pianist, an aptitude that brings beauty to life with a turn of the
wrist; in a word, that sensibility of touch which keeps an ordinary
craftsman happy for a lifetime: and these things terrify him. He ties
both hands behind his back and fights so. Deliberately he chooses the
most commonplace aspects and the most unlovely means of expression,
hoping that, talent thus bound, genius will be stung into action.
Sometimes, no doubt, Achilles stays sulking in his tent. I suppose
Derain can be dull.

But what does he want this genius of his to do? Nothing less, I
believe, than what the French genius did at its supreme moment, in the
seventeenth century, what the Greek did in the fifth. My notion is that
he wants to create art which shall be perfectly uncompromising and at
the same time human, and he would like it none the worse, I dare say,
were it to turn out popular as well. After all, Racine did this, and
Moliere and La Bruyere and Watteau and Chardin and Renoir. It is in the
French tradition to believe that there is a beauty common to life and
art. The Greeks had it, so runs the argument, and the Italians of the
high renaissance, but the English poets tended to sacrifice art to
beauty, and the moderns--so Derain may think--sacrifice beauty and
grandeur to discretion. The motto "Safety first" did, I will confess,
just float across my eyes as I walked through the last _salon
d'automne_. And, then, Derain may feel that there is in him something
besides his power of creation and sense of form, something which
philosophers would call, I dare say, a sense of absolute beauty in
things, of external harmony. However we may call it, what I mean is the
one thing at all worth having which the Greeks had and the Byzantines
had not, which Raphael possesses more abundantly than Giotto. In Derain
this sense is alive and insistent; it is urging him always to capture
something that is outside him; the question is, can he, without for one
moment compromising the purity of his art, obey it? I do not know. But
if he cannot, then there is no man alive to give this age what Phidias,
Giorgione, and Watteau gave theirs.

The French are not unwilling to believe that they are the heirs of
Greece and Rome. So, if I am right, the extraordinary influence of
Derain may be accounted for partly, at any rate, by the fact that he,
above all living Frenchmen, has the art to mould, in the materials of
his age, a vessel that might contain the grand classical tradition. What
is more, it is he, if anyone, who has the strength to fill it. No one
who ever met him but was impressed by the prodigious force of his
character and his capacity for standing alone. At moments he reminds one
oddly of Johnson. He, too, is a dictator, at once humorous and tragic
like the mirific doctor, but, unlike him, infinitely subtle. He, too, is
troubled, and not by any sense of isolation nor yet by the gnawings of
vanity and small ambition. It is the problem that tortures him. Can he
do what Raphael and Racine did? Can he create something that shall be
uncompromising as art and at the same time humane?

Face to face with that problem Derain stands for what is to-day most
vital and valid in France--a passionate love of the great tradition,
a longing for order and the will to win it, and that mysterious thing
which the Athenians called [Greek: _spoudiotes_]; and schoolmasters call
"high seriousness." He accepts the age into which he has stumbled with
all its nastiness, vulgarity, and cheek. He accepts that woebegone,
modern democracy which could not even make its great war fine. He
believes he can make something of it. Because he has a first-rate
intellect he can afford to mistrust reason; and so sure is he of his own
taste that he can brush refinement aside. Yet neither his scepticisms
nor his superstitions alienate the intelligent, nor are the sensitive
offended by his total disregard of their distinctions. And though all
this has nothing to do with painting, on painters, I surmise, it has its


[Footnote Y: 1921]

On the first night of the Russian ballet in Paris, somewhere about the
middle of May, perhaps the best painter in France, one of the best
musicians, and an obscure journalist were sitting in a small _bistrot_
on the Boulevard St. Germain. They should all have been at the
spectacle; all had promised to go; and yet they sat on over their
_alcools_ and _bocks_, and instead of going to the ballet began to abuse
it. And from the ballet they passed to modern music in general, and from
music to literature: till gradually into the conversation came, above
the familiar note of easy denigration, a note of energy, of conviction,
of aspiration, which so greatly astonished one, at least, of the three
that, just before two o'clock--the hour at which the patron puts even
his most faithful clients out of doors--he exclaimed, with an emphasis
in him uncommon, "Plus de Jazz!"

It was the least important of the three who said it, and, had it been
the most, I am not suggesting that, like the walls of Jericho, a
movement would have tottered at an ejaculation. Jazz will not die
because a few clever people have discovered that they are getting sick
of it; Jazz is dying, and the conversation to which I have referred is
of importance only as an early recognition of the fact. For the rest it
was unjust, as such conversations will be; the Jazz movement, short and
slightly irritating though it was, having served its turn and added its
quota to the tradition. But Jazz is dead--or dying, at any rate--and the
moment has come for someone who likes to fancy himself wider awake
than his fellows to write its obituary notice. In doing so he may,
adventitiously, throw light on something more interesting than the
past; he may adumbrate the outline of the coming movement. For always
movements are conditioned partly by their predecessors, against which,
in some sort, they must ever be reactions.

The Jazz movement is a ripple on a wave; the wave--the large movement
which began at the end of the nineteenth century in a reaction against
realism and scientific paganism--still goes forward. The wave is
essentially the movement which one tends to associate, not very
accurately perhaps, with the name of Cezanne: it has nothing to do with
Jazz; its most characteristic manifestation is modern painting, which,
be it noted, Jazz had left almost untouched. "Picasso?" queries someone.
I shall come to Picasso presently. The great modern painters--Derain,
Matisse, Picasso, Bonnard, Friesz, Braque, etc.--were firmly settled on
their own lines of development before ever Jazz was heard of: only the
riff-raff has been affected. Italian Futurism is the nearest approach to
a pictorial expression of the Jazz spirit.

The movement bounced into the world somewhere about the year 1911.
It was headed by a Jazz band and a troupe of niggers, dancing.
Appropriately it took its name from music--the art that is always behind
the times. Gavroche was killed on the barricades, and it was with
his name that Jazz should have been associated. Impudence is its
essence--impudence in quite natural and legitimate revolt against
nobility and beauty: impudence which finds its technical equivalent in
syncopation: impudence which rags. "The Ragtime movement" would have
been the better style, but the word "Jazz" has passed into at least
three languages, and now we must make the best of it.

After impudence comes the determination to surprise: you shall not be
gradually moved to the depths, you shall be given such a start as makes
you jigger all over. And from this determination issues the grateful
corollary--thou shalt not be tedious. The best Jazz artists are never
long-winded. In their admirable and urbane brevity they remind one
rather of the French eighteenth century. But surprise is an essential
ingredient. An accomplished Jazz artist, whether in notes or words,
will contrive, as a rule, to stop just where you expected him to begin.
Themes and ideas are not to be developed; to say all one has to say
smells of the school, and may be a bore, and--between you and me--a
"giveaway" to boot. Lastly, it must be admitted there is a typically
modern craving for small profits and quick returns. Jazz art is soon
created, soon liked, and soon forgotten. It is the movement of masters
of eighteen; and these masterpieces created by boys barely escaped from
college can be appreciated by the youngest Argentine beauty at the Ritz.
Jazz is very young: like short skirts, it suits thin, girlish legs,
but has a slightly humiliating effect on grey hairs. Its fears and
dislikes--for instance, its horror of the noble and the beautiful--are
childish; and so is its way of expressing them. Not by irony and
sarcasm, but by jeers and grimaces does Jazz mark its antipathies. Irony
and wit are for the grown-ups. Jazz dislikes them as much as it dislikes
nobility and beauty. They are the products of the cultivated intellect,
and Jazz cannot away with intellect or culture. Niggers can be admired
artists without any gifts more singular than high spirits; so why drag
in the intellect? Besides, to bring intellect into art is to invite home
a guest who is apt to be inquisitive and even impartial. Intellect in
Jazz circles is treated rather as money was once in polite society--it
is taken for granted. Nobility, beauty, and intellectual subtlety are
alike ruled out: the first two are held up to ridicule, the last is
simply abused. What Jazz wants are romps and fun, and to make fun; that
is why, as I have said, its original name Ragtime was the better. At its
best Jazz rags every thing.

The inspiration of Jazz is the same as that of the art of the _grand
siecle_. Everyone knows how in the age of Louis XIV artists found in
_la bonne compagnie_ their standards, their critics, and many of their
ideas. It was by studying and writing for this world that Racine,
Moliere, and Boileau gave an easier and less professional gait to French
literature, which--we should not forget--during its most glorious period
was conditioned and severely limited by the tastes and prejudices of
polite society. Whether the inventors of Jazz thought that, in their
pursuit of beauty and intensity, the artists of the nineteenth century
had strayed too far from the tastes and interests of common but
well-to-do humanity I know not, but certain it is that, like Racine and
Moliere, and unlike Beaudelaire and Mallarme and Cesar Franck, they
went to _la bonne compagnie_ for inspiration and support. _La bonne
compagnie_ they found in the lounges of great hotels, on transatlantic
liners, in _wagons-lits_, in music-halls, and in expensive motor-cars
and restaurants. _La bonne compagnie_ was dancing one-steps to ragtime
music. This, they said, is the thing. The artists of the nineteenth
century had found _la bonne compagnie_--the rich, that is to
say--dancing waltzes to sentimental _Olgas_ and _Blue Danubes_, but they
had drawn quite other conclusions. Yet waltzes and waltz-tunes are just
as good as, and no better than, fox-trots and ragtime. Both have their
merits; but it is a mistake, perhaps, for artists to take either

Be that as it may, the serious artists of the nineteenth century never
dreamed of supposing that the pleasures of the rich were the proper
stuff of art; so it was only natural that the twentieth should go to the
hotel lounges for inspiration. And, of course, it was delightful for
those who sat drinking their cocktails and listening to nigger-bands to
be told that, besides being the jolliest people on earth, they were the
most sensitive and critically gifted. They, along with the children and
savages whom in so many ways they resembled, were the possessors of
natural, uncorrupted taste. They first had appreciated ragtime and
surrendered themselves to the compelling qualities of Jazz. Their
instinct might be trusted: so, no more classical concerts and
music-lessons; no more getting Lycidas by heart; no more Baedeker; no
more cricking one's neck in the Sistine Chapel: unless the coloured
gentleman who leads the band at the Savoy has a natural leaning towards
these things you may depend upon it they are noble, pompous, and
fraudulent. And it was delightful, too, for people without a vestige of
talent--and even then these were in the majority--people who could just
strum a tune or string a few lines of doggerel, to be told that all
that distinguishes what used to be called "serious art" from their
productions was of no consequence whatever, and that, on the contrary,
it was these, if any, that ought to be taken seriously. The output of
verse, which was manifestly much too easy to write and difficult to
read, went up suddenly by leaps and bounds. What is more, some of it got
printed: publishers, and even editors, bowed the knee. Naturally, the
movement was a success at the Ritz and in Grub Street, Mayfair. On the
other hand, because to people who reflected for an instant it seemed
highly improbable that fox-trotters and shimmy-shakers were sensitive or
interesting people, that Christy Minstrels were great musicians, or
that pub-crawlers and _demi-mondaines_ were poets, there sprang
simultaneously into existence a respectable, intelligent, and
ill-tempered opposition which did, and continues to do, gross injustice
to the genuine artists who have drawn inspiration, or sustenance at any
rate, from Jazz.

During the last ten years Jazz had dominated music and coloured
literature: on painting, as I have said, its effect has been negligible.
What, for want of a better name, I must call the Cezanne movement was
too profound a stream to be modified by so shallow a current. All the
great contemporary painters are extremely serious; they make no faces at
their predecessors, or at anyone else. They are not _gavroche_. Surprise
is the last emotion they wish to arouse. And, assuredly, they have
neither gone to the hotel-loungers for inspiration nor shown the
slightest desire to amuse them. This is as true of Picasso as of
Derain: only, Picasso's prodigious inventiveness may sometimes give the
impression of a will to surprise, while his habit of turning everything
to account certainly does lead him to cast an inquisitive eye on every
new manifestation of vitality. I have seen him enthusiastic over _la
politique_ Lloyd-George, and I should not be in the least surprised if
he found something in it to serve some one or other of his multifarious
purposes. If, however, surprise were what Picasso aimed at he could go a
very much easier way about it. He could do what his tenth-rate imitators
try to do--for instance, he could agreeably shock the public with
monstrous caricatures and cubist photography--those pictures, I mean,
which the honest stockbroker recognizes, with a thrill of excitement at
his own cleverness, as his favourite picture-postcards rigged out to
look naughty. But Picasso shows such admirable indifference to the
public that you could never guess from his pictures that such a thing
existed: and that, of course, is how it should be. He never startles for
the sake of startling; neither does he mock. Certainly, unlike the best
of his contemporaries, he seems almost as indifferent to the tradition
as he is to the public; but he no more laughs at the one than he tries
to startle the other. Only amongst the whipper-snappers of painting
will you discover a will to affront tradition, or attract attention by
deliberate eccentricity. Only, I think, the Italian Futurists, their
transalpine apes, a few revolutionaries on principle, but especially
the Futurists with their electric-lit presentation of the more obvious
peculiarities of contemporary life and their taste for popular
actualities can be said definitely to have attempted a pictorial
expression of Jazz.

On music, however, and literature its influence has been great, and here
its triumphs are considerable. It is easy to say that the genius of
Stravinsky--a musician, unless I mistake, of the first order and in the
great line--rises superior to movements. To be sure it does: so does
the genius of Moliere. But just as the genius of Moliere found its
appropriate food in one kind of civilization, so does the genius
of Stravinsky in another; and with that civilization his art must
inevitably be associated. Technically, too, he has been influenced much
by nigger rhythms and nigger methods. He has composed ragtimes. So, if
it is inexact to say that Stravinsky writes Jazz, it is true to say that
his genius has been nourished by it. Also, he sounds a note of defiance,
and sometimes, I think, does evince a will to insult. That he surprises
and startles is clear; what is more, I believe he means to do it: but
tricks of self-advertisement are, of course, beneath so genuine an
artist. No more than Picasso does he seek small profits or quick
returns; on the contrary, he casts his bread upon the waters with a
finely reckless gesture. The fact is, Stravinsky is too big to be
covered by a label; but I think the Jazz movement has as much right
to claim him for its own as any movement has to claim any first-rate
artist. Similarly, it may claim Mr. T.S. Eliot--a poet of uncommon merit
and unmistakably in the great line--whose agonizing labours seem to have
been eased somewhat by the comfortable ministrations of a black and
grinning muse. Midwifery, to be sure, seems an odd occupation for a lady
whom one pictures rather in the role of a flapper: but a midwife
was what the poet needed, and in that capacity she has served him.
Apparently it is only by adopting a demurely irreverent attitude, by
being primly insolent, and by playing the devil with the instrument of
Shakespeare and Milton that Mr. Eliot is able occasionally to deliver
himself of one of those complicated and remarkable imaginings of his:
apparently it is only in language of an exquisite purity so far as
material goes, but twisted and ragged out of easy recognition, that
these nurslings can be swathed. As for surprise, that, presumably, is an
emotion which the author of _Ara Vos Prec_ is not unwilling to provoke.
Be that as it may, Mr. Eliot is about the best of our living poets, and,
like Stravinsky, he is as much a product of the Jazz movement as so good
an artist can be of any.

In literature Jazz manifests itself both formally and in
content. Formally its distinctive characteristic is the familiar
one--syncopation. It has given us a ragtime literature which flouts
traditional rhythms and sequences and grammar and logic. In verse its
products--rhythms which are often indistinguishable from prose rhythms
and collocations of words to which sometimes is assignable no exact
intellectual significance--are by now familiar to all who read. Eliot is
too personal to be typical of anything, and the student who would get a
fair idea of Jazz poetry would do better to spend half an hour with a
volume of Cocteau or Cendrars. In prose I think Mr. Joyce will serve as
a, perhaps, not very good example: I choose him because he is probably
better known to readers than any other writer who affects similar
methods. In his later publications Mr. Joyce does deliberately go to
work to break up the traditional sentence, throwing overboard sequence,
syntax, and, indeed, most of those conventions which men habitually
employ for the exchange of precise ideas. Effectually, and with a will,
he rags the literary instrument: unluckily, this will has at its service
talents which though genuine are moderate only. A writer of greater
gifts, Virginia Woolf, has lately developed a taste for playing tricks
with traditional constructions. Certainly she "leaves out" with the
boldest of them: here is syncopation if you like it. I am not sure that
I do. At least, I doubt whether the concentration gained by her new
style for _An Unwritten Novel_ and _Monday or Tuesday_ makes up for the
loss of those exquisite but old-fashioned qualities which make _The Mark
on the Wall_ a masterpiece of English prose. But, indeed, I do not think
of Mrs. Woolf as belonging properly to the movement; she is not imbued
with that spirit which inspires the authentic Jazz writers, whether of
verse that looks oddly like prose or of prose that raises a false hope
of turning out to be verse, and conditions all that they produce. She
is not _gavroche_. In her writings I find no implicit, and often
well-merited, jeer at accepted ideas of what prose and verse should
be and what they should be about; no nervous dislike of traditional
valuations, of scholarship, culture, and intellectualism; above all, no
note of protest against the notion that one idea or emotion can be more
important or significant than another. Assuredly, Mrs. Woolf is not
of the company on whose banner is inscribed "No discrimination!" "No
culture!" "Not much thought!" She is not of that school whose grand
object it is to present, as surprisingly as possible, the chaos of any
mind at any given moment.

The Jazz theory of art, if theory there be, seems stupid enough--as do
most. What matters, however, are not theories, but works: so what of the
works of Jazz? If Stravinsky is to be claimed for the movement, Jazz has
its master: it has also its _petits maitres_--Eliot, Cendrars, Picabia,
and Joyce, for instance, and _les six_. Oddly enough, _les six_ consist
of four musicians--Darius Milhaud, Georges Auric, Poulenc, and Germaine
Taillefer [Z]--chaperoned by the brilliant Jean Cocteau. All five have
their places in contemporary civilization: and such talents are not to
be disposed of simply by the present of a bad name. For it is not
enough to call an artist "extremist" or "reactionary," "Cubist"
or "Impressionist," and condemn or approve him as such. These
classifications are merely journalistic or, if you will, archaeological
conveniences. It is the critic's business to inquire not so much whether
an artist is "advanced" or "Cubist" or "Jazz," as whether he is good,
bad, or interesting; and that is what most critics fail to do. One's
general opinion of a movement or school ought not to affect one's
opinion of any particular work. One may, for excellent reasons, dislike
a movement; one may hold that it hampers or sets on a false scent more
artists than it serves; that it induces students of promise to waste
time and energy on fruitless problems; that it generally fails to
get the best out of its most gifted adherents, while it pumps into a
multitude of empty heads so much hot air as to swell them to disquieting
proportions. This is pretty much what I think of Cubism; but I am not
such a fool as to deny that, experimenting in these very problems which
seem to me to lead most artists into a rather unprofitable world of
abstractions, Picasso and Braque have produced works of the greatest
beauty and significance, while those of Fernand Leger, Jean Metsinger,
and other avowed Cubists are of extraordinary merit and deserve the most
careful attention. I can think of no movement except that called "Art
nouveau," which has not contributed something to the world's artistic
capital and to the great tradition. Only, to realize this, one must be
able to distinguish not only between movements, but between the artists
of a movement. That is what angry critics will not do. That is why the
admirable Mr. Dent--whose brilliant lacerations of _les six_, and other
exponents of Jazz, I sometimes have the pleasure of translating to his
victims--knew no better, the other day, than to bracket Poulenc with
Miss Edith Sitwell. Confusions of this sort seem to me to take the sting
out of criticism; and that, I am sure, is the last thing Mr. Dent would
wish to do. He, at any rate, who comes to bury Jazz should realize
what the movement has to its credit, _viz._, one great musician, one
considerable poet, ten or a dozen charming or interesting little masters
and mistresses, and a swarm of utterly fatuous creatures who in all good
faith believe themselves Artists.

[Footnote Z: Honegger, I think, was never officially of the band.]

The encouragement given to fatuous ignorance to swell with admiration of
its own incompetence is perhaps what has turned most violently so
many intelligent and sensitive people against Jazz. They see that it
encourages thousands of the stupid and vulgar to fancy that they can
understand art, and hundreds of the conceited to imagine that they can
create it. All the girls in the "dancings" and sportsmen at the bar who
like a fox-trot or a maxixe have been given to believe, by people who
ought to know better, that they are more sensitive to music than those
who prefer Beethoven. The fact that Stravinsky wants his music to be
enjoyed in the cafes gives pub-loafers fair ground for supposing that
Stravinsky respects their judgement. Well, the music of Brahms is not
enjoyed by pub-loafers; but formerly the concert-goers were allowed to
know better. Stravinsky is reported to have said that he would like
people to be eating, drinking, and talking while his music was being
played (how furious he would be if they did anything of the sort!), so,
when a boxful of bounders begin chattering in the middle of an opera
and the cultivated cry "hush" the inference is that the cultivated are
making themselves ridiculous. Again: if rules were made by pedants for
pedants, must not mere lawlessness be a virtue? And, since savages think
little and know less, and since savage art has been extolled by the
knowing ones (I take my share of whatever blame may be going) as much
as "cultured" has been decried does it not follow that ignorant and
high-spirited lads are likely to write better verses than such erudite
old buffers as Milton, Spenser, and Gray? Above all, because it has been
said that the intellect has nothing to do with art, it is assumed by the
mob of ladies and gentlemen, who if they wrote not with ease could not
write at all, that there is no such thing as the artistic problem. And
it is, I believe, chiefly because all genuine artists are beginning to
feel more and more acutely the need of a severe and exacting problem,
and because everyone who cares seriously for art feels the need of
severe critical standards, that, with a sigh of relief, people are
timidly murmuring to each other "Plus de Jazz!"

And, indeed, there are autumnal indications: the gay _papier-mache_
pagoda is beginning to lose its colours: visibly it is wilting. When,
a few days after the conversation I have recorded, it was rumoured in
Paris that the admired Prokofieff, composer of _Chout_, had said that
he detested ragtime, the consternation into which were thrown some
fashionable bars and _salons_ was as painful to behold as must have been
that into which were thrown parlours and vicarage gardens when Professor
Huxley began pouring cold water on Noah's Ark. We hurried away to the
Southern Syncopated Orchestra, only to find it sadly fallen off. But had
it really changed so much as we? And, more and more, immense musical and
literary activity notwithstanding, people are looking to the painters,
with their high seriousness, professionalism, conscience, reverence, and
vitality as the sole exponents and saviours of "le grand art." Not for
nothing is Derain the most admired of Frenchmen by the young _elite_;
for Derain is humorous without being _gavroche_, respects the tradition
yet is subservient to no school, and believes that all the highest human
faculties are not more than sufficient to the production of the smallest
work of art.

What the pick of the new generation in France, and in England too, I
fancy, is beginning to feel is that art, though it need never be solemn,
must always be serious; that it is a matter of profound emotion and of
intense and passionate thought; and that these things are rarely found
in dancing-palaces and hotel lounges. Even to understand art a man must
make a great intellectual effort. One thing is not as good as another;
so artists and amateurs must learn to choose. No easy matter that:
discrimination of this sort being something altogether different
from telling a Manhattan from a Martini. To select as an artist or
discriminate as a critic are needed feeling and intellect and--most
distressing of all--study. However, unless I mistake, the effort will
be made. The age of easy acceptance of the first thing that comes is
closing. Thought rather than spirits is required, quality rather than
colour, knowledge rather than irreticence, intellect rather than
singularity, wit rather than romps, precision rather than surprise,
dignity rather than impudence, and lucidity above all things: _plus de
Jazz_. Meanwhile, whether the ladies and gentlemen in the restaurants
will soon be preferring sentimental waltz-tunes to flippant ragtimes
is a question on which I cannot pretend to an opinion. Neither does it
matter. What these people like or dislike has nothing to do with art.
That is the discovery.


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