This section is from the book "Is It Art? Post-Impressionism. Futurism. Cubism.", by J. Nilsen Laurvik.
And when you have made this interesting discovery of this something that has the semblance of a human being you will also have discovered the inherent contradiction in this work which attempts to evoke an impression of an object by means of an objective rendering of it that makes the artist as much a slave to the model as was ever the old masters. Take their portraits, for example. There you will find an eye, the eye of the person depicted. And whether this eye is made diamond-shaped - with angels, in cubes - or round like an orb, what does it really matter? The essential idea and attempt is the same.
Thus one finds a number of these followers of Picasso making a desperate effort at abstraction by reducing all natural forms to a system of cubism, (than which there is nothing more concrete and mathematically matter-of-fact) and at the same time vainly retaining a slender hold on actuality by labelling this arbitrary arrangement of cubes with a concrete title such as "A Procession in Seville" or a "Souvenir of Grimalde, Italy," as does Mr. Picabia as well as Picasso, whose "Woman with a Pot of Mustard" is one of the most engaging puzzles of a very puzzling art. This is sharply emphasized by the delight and pride of every spectator who is successful in solving the puzzle by finding in these enigmatic charts some sort of a tangible, pictorial justification of the title appended thereto.
It will be seen therefore that the efforts of these men to give a subjective rendering of actuality results in nothing better than a poorly realized form of objectivity which is as much the creation of the spectator as of the artist, inasmuch as the vaguely adumbrated forms in the picture simply serve as a hint to that reality of which it is a wilfully distorted symbol, and the discovery of the "mustard pot" would scarcely have been possible without the happy cooperation of the title with the spectator's previous knowledge of the actual appearance of a mustard pot.
Without the intervention of the title and the association of ideas called forth thereby through the memory of past experiences with actuality these pictures would be totally meaningless even to the most recondite. They would inevitably be reduced to a personal system of short hand, an individual code as it were, comprehensible only to the originator.
Regarded from that viewpoint these enigmatic paintings and drawings may very possibly be alto gether successful. At all events it is only fair to assume that these works express to the originator what he intended them to express. But it is quite obvious that they express something quite different to the spectator who has not been initiated into the meaning of this personal form of shorthand, and the appending of an objective title to what is intended as a subjective impression of the actual world hardly help him over the difficulty. On the contrary it takes him just that far away from the impression the artist desires to produce, plunging him deeper into that world of reality out of which he was to be extricated by this new art, and there is no doubt that in the minds of even the most intelligent spectator it only serves to reenforce his conception of reality upon which he is forced to fall back by the objective titles as well as the concrete representations of what is supposed to be a subjective mood.
I think it may safely be said that in no case does this mood manifest itself to the persons to whom it is addressed, although by a process of auto-hypnotism a certain few no doubt succeed in making themselves believe that they penetrate the real inwardness of these arbitrarily individual mental processes. Granted that these very discerning ones do respond to the real intention of these abstractions it cannot be denied that this work is the most circumscribed in its appeal of anything so far produced in the name of art and, until its working premise is made clearer, its influence must be correspondingly limited. At present it appears to me to be a too purely personal equation to be intelligible to others than the artist himself and therefore, generally speaking, it can not be regarded as art, whatever else it may be.
For that that communicates nothing expresses nothing and as the office of art is first and last expres sion this new form is as yet outside of the domain of art. These artists remain searchers in the realms of science and metaphysics which they would annex to the domain of art which has become too circumscribed for their ambitious strivings after a more completely individual form of self-expression. As the Futurists say in one of their recent manifestos in which they proceed to formulate a new art creed:
"Our growing art," it says, "can no longer be satisfied with form and color; what we wish to produce on canvas will no longer be one fixed instant of universal dynamism; it will simply be the dynamic sensation itself.
"Everything is movement, transformation. A profile is never motionless, but is constantly varying. Objects in movement multiply themselves, become deformed in pursuing each other, like hurried vibrations. For instance, a runaway horse has not four legs, but twenty, and their movement is triangular. In art all Is conventional, nothing is absolute. That which yesterday was a truth to-day is nothing but a lie.
"We declare, for instance, that a portrait must not resemble its model and that a painter must draw from his own inspiration the landscape he wishes to fix on canvas. To paint a human face one must not only reproduce the features, but also the surrounding atmosphere.
"Space no longer exists; in fact, the pavement of a street soaked by rain beneath the dazzle of electric lamps grows immensely hollow down to the centre of the earth.
"Thousands of miles divide us from the sun, but that does not prevent the house before us being incased in the solar disk.