Full text: The little review (9 (1923), 4)

56 
as a landscape or a figure as first material for a plastic work. It is a matter of 
choice in the beginning; wishing to obtain brilliancy and intensity I should prefer 
this material to any other. 
I return to the question stated above, that of the situation of the professional 
artists confronted with the formidable Renaissance of the artisans of the street 
and of the machine. A state of competition is created by the intensive production 
of the beautiful object. 
Two producers are in existence, will they destroy each other? 
The question is this: throughout the world there is a need of indisputable 
beauty, which is perhaps just now more of a necessity than ever before because 
of the actual hardness of life and of the weakening of religion. When life is 
painful the desire for an ideal is engendered. If at the moment there is a frenzy 
for physical gratification and for huge spectacles, it is because we seek a compen 
sation for the intense and difficult life we are leading. If these physical gratifica 
tions could be replaced by an appreciation of the plastic beauty which surrounds 
us, the individual would function more harmoniously. 
I believe that the need for beauty is more general than is realized. Not only 
from the child whom I mentioned a little while ago but from all of us comes the 
demand for beauty. Three-fourths of the gestures and aspirations of today are 
restless with this desire. Here, too, comes in the law of supply and demand; but 
the demand at the present moment is addressed especially to the professional 
artist, thanks to the prejudice, which I have mentioned, which makes us blind 
to the beautiful object manufactured by the artisan, because it is not the work of 
the “artist.” 
I have just seen the spectacle of “The Fair of Paris,” where invention fairly 
springs up at every step, where the effort of execution is prodigious. 
I was stupefied to see that all these men who have organized these admirable 
panels of detached pieces, these astonishing fantasies of letters and of light, these 
powerful costly machines, do not understand, do not feel that they are the real 
artists, that they have overturned all the modern plastic ideas. They are com 
pletely ignorant of the plastic quality which they create. Ignorance in such a 
case is perhaps salutary, but this vexing question of the unconscious in artistic 
creation is a painful drama which will long trouble the seekers of mystery. 
Suppose, as I said a little while ago, the immense world of engineers, of work 
men, of merchants, of shop keepers, become aware of the beauty which they manu 
facture and in which they live. The demand for beauty would be almost satisfied 
for them; the peasant would be satisfied with his beautiful mowing machine of 
many colours and the merchant with his melody of cravats. Why must these 
people go into raptures on Sunday over the doubtful pictures in the Louvre and 
elsewhere? Why do they go to gaze upon a poor imitation of a landscape hang 
ing on a wall when a beautiful electric meter is at hand which they do not see? 
They believe in the hierarchy of the arts, to them an electric meter could never 
be beautiful because it was not made for beauty. But the very lack of intention 
is one of its great claims to beauty. 
I insist that it does not amuse me to make a paradox; I am trying in the clear-
	        
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