Full text: The little review (8 (1922), 2)

and the artists determine the features of their epoch and docilely 
the future falls in with their plan. 
The general structure of an Egyptian mummy conforms to the 
figures outlined by the Egyptian artists, and yet the ancient 
Egyptians differed greatly the one from the other. They have 
conformed to the art of their epoch. 
To create the illusion—the type—is the real quality of art, 
its social role. God knows how the pictures of Manet and 
Renoir were mocked! Very well! It suffices to cast an eye upon 
the photographs of their epoch to see how the people and things 
conform to the pictures which these great artists have painted. 
The works of art being, from the plastic point of view the most 
energetic products of a period, this illusion appears to me quite 
natural. This energy imposes itself on men and is for them the 
plastic measure of an epoch. Thus, those who mock the new 
painters make fun of their own features, for the people of the 
future will picture to themselves the human beings of today as 
they have been represented by the artists of the most vital, that 
is to say, the newest art. Do not say to me that there are today 
other artists who paint in such a way that mankind will recognize 
itself as portrayed in their image. All the works of art of an 
epoch end by resembling the most expressive, the most typical, 
art of that period. Dolls are the outlet of a popular art, they 
seem always to be inspired by the great art of the same epoch. 
This is a truth easy to verify. And yet who would dare to say 
that the dolls which were sold in the bazaars about 1880 had 
been manufactured with a sentiment analogous to that of Renoir 
when he painted his portraits? Then, nobody noticed it. It 
signifies, nevertheless, that the art of Renoir was energetic 
enough, vital enough to impose itself on our senses, while to the 
great public at the same time when he started his conceptions 
appeared to be mad absurdities. 
One has often, and notably in the case of the most recent 
painters, been confronted by the possibility of a mystification or 
of a collective error.

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