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that has certainly been a cause of the relatively to express otherwise the shimmer of delicate small success of American work at recent in- foliage that Corot loved. Nay, so little is he ternational exhibitions. The American school a pure naturalist, he cannot resist letting the is, among the schools of to-day, singularly old white sides of naked nymphs gleam among fashioned. This characteristic has, undoubt his tree trunks-he cannot refrain from the edly, puzzled and repelled the foreigner. It is artist's immemorial dream of Arcady. As for a time when the madness for novelty seems Mr. Weir, surely nothing could be more unlike to be carrying everything before it, when any- the instantaneousness of true impressionism thing may be accepted so long as it is or seems than his long-brooded-over, subtle-toned, in. new, when the effort of all artists is to get rid finitely sensitive art. of conventions and to shake off the “shackles There is little dreaminess in the work of of tradition.” Here is a new people in the Mr. Tarbell and the growing number of his blessed state of having no traditions to shake followers. Theirs is almost a pure naturalism, off, and from whom, therefore, some peppery a “making it like.” Yet, notably in the work wildness might be expected for the tickling of of Mr. Tarbell himself, and to some extent in jaded palates. Behold, they are sturdily set that of the others, there is an elegance of ting themselves to recover for art the things arrangement, a thoroughness in the notation the others have thrown away! They are try- of gradations of light, a beauty and a charm ing to revive the old fashion of thoughtful com- that were learned of no modern. Their art position, the old fashion of good drawing, the is an effort to bring back the artistic quality old fashion of lovely color, and the old fash- of the most artistic naturalism ever practised, ion of sound and beautiful workmanship that of Vermeer of Delft.
This conservatism of American painting, Others of our artists are going still further however, is not of the kind that still marks back in the history of art for a part of their so much of the painting of England. Ex- inspiration. Mr. Brush has always been a cepting exceptions, English painting is some linealist and a student of form, but his earlier what stolidly staying where it was. Ameri- canvases, admirable as they were, were those ca's conservatism is ardent, determined, liv- of a docile pupil of Gérôme applying the ing. It is not standing still; it is going some- thoroughness of Gérôme's method to a new where as rapidly as possible-it might, per- range of subjects, and painting the American haps, be more truly called, not conservatism, Indian as Gérôme had painted the modern but reaction. We have, of course, our ultra- Egyptian. In recent years each new picture modernists, but their audacities are mild com- of his has shown more clearly the influence of pared to those of the French or German models the early Italians-each has been more nearly they imitate. We have, even more of course, a symphony of pure line. the followers of the easiest way--the practi- Even in purely technical matters our painttioners of current and accepted methods who ers have been experimenting backward, tryare alike everywhere. But our most original ing to recover lost technical beauties. The and most distinguished painters, those who last pictures of Louis Loeb were under-painted give the tone to our exhibitions and the na- throughout in monochrome, the final colors tional accent to our school, are almost all en- being applied in glazes and rubbings, and togaged in trying to get back one or another of day a number of others, landscape and figure the qualities that marked the great art of the painters, are attempting to restore and master past. They have gone back of the art of the this, the pure Venetian method; while still day and are retying the knots that should bind others, among them Emil Carlsen, are revivtogether the art of all ages.
ing the use of tempera. This tendency shows itself strongly even in But it is in our mural painting even more those whose work seems, at first sight, most than elsewhere that the conservative or repurely naturalistic or impressionistic. Among actionary tendency of American painting is those of our painters who have adopted and most clearly marked. John La Farge was alretained the impressionist technique, with its ways himself, but when the general movement hatching of broken colors, the two most nota- in mural painting began in this country with ble are Mr. Hassam and Mr. Weir. But Mr. the Chicago World's Fair and the subsequent Hassam is a designer with a sense of balance decoration of the Library of Congress, the and of classic grace almost equal to that of rest of us were much under the influence of Corot, and he uses the impressionist method Puvis de Chavannes. Even then the design was not his, but was founded on earlier ex- wielders of the big brush often achieve a suramples of decorative composition, but his pale prising power of resonant coloring. tones were everywhere. Little by little the Power, fulness, and beauty of coloring are study of the past has taught us better. Amer- hardly modern qualities. Much as impressionican mural painting has grown steadily more ism has been praised for restoring color to a monumental in design, and at the same time colorless art, its result has been, too often, to it has grown richer and fuller in color, · To- substitute whitishness for blackishness. Color day, while it is not less but more personal and has characterized no modern painting since original than it was, it has more kinship with that of Delacroix and Millet as it characthe noble achievements of Raphael and Vero- terizes much of the best American painting. nese than has any other modern work extant. The love for and the success in color of our
And this brings us to the second charac- school is, after all, a part of its conservatism. teristic of the American School of Painting; It may seem an odd way of praising a modit is rapidly becoming a school of color. We ern school to call it the least modern of any. have still plenty of painters who work in the It would be an odd way of praising that school blackish or chalky or muddy and opaque if its lack of modernness were a mere matter tones of modern art, but I think we have more of lagging behind or of standing still and markmen who produce rich and powerful color and ing time. But if the “march of progress" more men who produce subtle and delicate has been downhill—if the path that is trod color than any other modern school. The ex- leads into a swamp or over a precipice-then periments in reviving old technical methods there may be most hopefulness for those who have been undertaken for the sake of purity can 'bout-face and march the other way. I and luminosity of color, and have largely have, in recent articles in this magazine, given succeeded. The pictures of Mr. Tarbell are at some length some of my reasons for thinkfar more colored than those of the European ing that modern art has been following a painter whose work is, in some ways, most an- false route and is in danger of perishing alogous to his, M. Joseph Bail. Mr. Has- in the bog or falling over the cliff. If it sam's color is always sparkling and brilliant, is so we may congratulate ourselves that Mr. Dewing's delicate and charming, Mr. those of our painters who are still following Weir's subtle and harmonious and sometimes the rest of the world have not so nearly very full. Even Mr. Brush's linear arrange- reached the end of the road, and that ments are clothed in sombre but often richly those who are more independent have disharmonious tones, and the decorative use of covered in time what that end is and have powerful color is the main reliance of such turned back. painters as Hugo Ballin. But the note of It is because it is least that of to-day that I color runs through the school and one hardly believe our art may be that of to-morrow-it is needs to name individual men. Whether our because it is, of all art now going, that which landscapists glaze and scumble with the tonal- has most connection with the past that I hope ists, or use some modification of the impres- the art of America may prove to be the art of sionist hatching, it is for the sake of color; the future. and even our most forthright and dashing
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