This section is from the book "Is It Art? Post-Impressionism. Futurism. Cubism.", by J. Nilsen Laurvik.
But he must examine the pictures. The Committee was ranged before them in silence. It seemed as if upon the walls of the gallery there had suddenly been arranged squares of fayence-ware of many colors for the decoration of a shower bath in an insane asylum. Assuredly nothing like it had ever been seen before and the effect was immense. Rutilant, who was going to write the preface, shook his fist and gnawed at his mustache. He had dined well at Gluant's and his face was flushed.. Finally he burst out:
"Good Lord; how beautiful it is. Where is the man who will not think that beautiful?"
He certainly was not present, for these gentlemen delivered themselves of the following opinions: "Perfect," said Exigut.
"Collosal," said Hundsfott.
"Soave!" piped Pomposo.
"Very good," acquiesced Cheese.
"That will fetch big prices," murmured Matois.
Chetif-bey and the descendant of Greco were moved but silent. Alcide Gluant touched Rutilant's shoulder and said maliciously:
"What? My dear friend and to think that we wasted time supporting Monet and Renoir. Well, we were young then."
"Pooh!" answered Rutilant. Those were only vain stammerings compared to these marvels, but at that time it was something new. When one is independent from birth and a discoverer of genius, remember gentlemen one must always be discovering something. A discoverer, who does not discover anything more, is only fit to be thrown to the dogs. As for me, I have discovered something every year for the last thirty years, and have not finished yet. I arrogated this public duty to myself."
"And it is yours by right of genius," insinuated Gluant.
"Do not exaggerate, my dear friend; but having mixed myself up with art-criticism, I should have preferred to be a scavenger rather than fall into the torpid idiocy of the Fromentins, the Charles Blancs and the Theophile Gautiers and other ignoramuses. I have accomplished my difficult and beneficent task because I was the only judge of art of my century. I managed the cudgel, the necessary cudgel... I am sensitive and have a feeling of integrity, that is all. And now Monsieur Grondin, I am going to write a preface for you which I intend shall be a thundering one, do you understand? I count on you to receive the Assistant Secretary of State, as he deserves to be. It certainly is to laugh or to howl if one believes that such people are still needed, but what can one do? Noble Anarchy reigns as yet only in paintings... I hope that you will teach this gentleman a lesson and that he will buy at least one of these masterpieces for the Luxembourg, to make up for all the dirty stuff put there. You are not going to let him bluff you?" "Oh, no," said Grondin, the Assistant Secretary of State is really very nice. He comes here sometimes to see what is going on. Yesterday he even spoke to me of Delacroix..."
"They still talk of that! What fossils!" exclaimed Rutilant, slapping his thighs with his strong hands covered with red hair.
General hilarity followed. Chetif-bey whispered in Hundsfott's ear:
"I did not understand..."
"They are speaking of the old man who painted the massacres of Scio ..."
"Oh, yes," said Chetif-bey, "you would have had more work at Adana ..."
"Then," continued Grondin, "I answered: 'But Mr. Assistant Secretary of State, you know... they don't give a rap far Delacroix. Delacroix didn't know beans about designing ... ' He looked astonished, but nevertheless he did not dare strike back ... I beg your pardon, gentlemen, I mean to say..."
"No, no, Grondin," took up Rutilant," I like the old realistic saying. I see that Mr. Palombaro's interests will be in good hands here, don't you think so, gentlemen? And there will be a crowd and the common people will bray, and it will be a fine victory for all of us and for the international exposition of the ' Sans-Principes'. By Jove! One is independent or one is not. There will be a fight and the day will come when all their dirty museums, which are strongholds of obscurantism will be set on fire. There will be nothing, nothing else left but free art!"
"My dear friend," softly said Gluant, "there will remain the private collections..."
"And, we, the dealers," whispered Matois to
Hundsfott. "He is a surprising fellow, is Rutilant. Nevertheless we are able to compel the critics..." "Never mind," answered Hundsfott, "Rutilant always gets excited, but he is a friend; he understands; he brings me quite some people ... "
"Gentlemen/' cried Rutilant, "hurrah for Palombaro."
After this cry, repeated by all present, the meeting was adjourned and everybody proceeded to the door. Grondin conducted them, charmed, profusely distributing his smiles and handshakes. When he returned, he noticed that the futurist had remained. Up to now Palombaro had not uttered one word; Grondin looked at him curiously. The painter, undisturbed, correct, smiled from the corners of his carefully shaven thin lips.
"You doubtless wish to speak of some material details?" said Grondin ... "I am at your disposal, now that these gentlemen ... but you see I cannot tell why, but I have a persistent impression of having met you, of having known you before ... "
"That must date," said Giuseppe Palombaro quietly, "from the time when, before establishing yourself as a dealer of paintings and before not giving a rap for Delacroix, you were restaurateur on the Place Cambronne. - Not a restorer ... of paintings ..." "In fact I... I .. but I prefer that this ..."
"There is no harm in that, Mr. Grondin; you had a fine house, well recommended, and a very renowned Villaudric claret. It was the latter which caused our disagreement. I took a trifle too much of it, and you put me out. Only, if you had artistic aspirations, so had I... now don't faint, Mr. Grondin. At that time a black beard covered my whole face, American style, and that is why you do not recognize me ... I am Joseph, your former dishwasher. Well, you see, I had already daubed some, but when I got to Milan I started to paint. After having tossed about, I finally got a job there at a spaghetti merchant's and it was there that the idea struck me. My technique? Why it was the spaghetti, colored. The advance guard painting is not so very difficult; I learned the jargon, I saw some cubists and I chose a 'nom de guerre'; Giuseppe sounds better than Joseph, and Palombaro means 'plongeur' (diver, a slang name for dishwasher). I slipped in and, luck helping me, in two seasons ... there you are ..."