« AnkstesnisTęsti »
By permission of "Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration" GEOMETRIC HAT DESIGNED BY EMANUEL MARGOLD
design than their predecessors of the Salon. They have nothing to contribute save an insistence upon the necessity of stripping to essentials. The pictures that they make are very much like the preliminary sketches of the veriest academist-the old feeling for "continuity of line," for "unity of mass," and no more. Lasar, in his "Practical Hints for Art Students," made up of a thousand studio formulæ, gives many rough compositions of this sort, and Harold Speed, in "The Practice and Science of Drawing," gives many more. Lines drawn by a blind and groping intuition, masses placed with the hazardous guidance of "feeling" alone, and all grouped under innumerable empirical rules collected from special cases; as, a straight line so gives strength, a jagged line so gives discord, a curved line so gives harmony-all this is the substance of our modern knowledge of composition. Yet this is the basis upon which the radicals wish to build a new art. A vast series of empirical rules that furnish no answer to the question why-we cannot make much of these.
"Composition," says Lasar, "teaches how to express one's ideals in the most forcible manner." Save the ultra-realists, most modern artists from Kenyon Cox to Matisse would agree with this. Indeed, each group takes just this as the visible or invisible corner-stone of its particular creed, with the most diverse and chaotic results. The difficulty is that while we have a more or less satisfactory science of color and a consummate science of draftsmanship, we have scarcely made an approach toward a science of design. Design with us belongs to the realm of the occult and mystical, and this is one of our
greatest obstacles to real artistic achieve
There is, however, a phase of the movement toward composition more avowedly conservative than many of the recent isms that suggests more reasonable possibilities for progress. In Germany and Austria an intense desire for design has manifested itself in the last ten years in every phase of artistic activity. Not restricting themselves to composing in pictures alone, the Germans have produced ornaments, household utensils, furniture of all sorts, and all thoroughly well designed. They make tapestries and mural decorations in which the design is striking and insistent. They apply design to poster-work with astonishing results. Where advertisements not many years ago would have flaunted a crude and inefficient realism, they may now use wellplaced lettering alone, or forms that are meaningless save as elements of a unit composition. Even book illustration moves away from a naturalistic treatment toward a decorative one; and stage-scenery, discontented with presenting the thing as it is, strives to gain emotional tones and effects by the manipulation of design and color nearly unaided by realistic appearance. Most remarkable, perhaps, is the character of modern German architecture. House after house is laid out on rigid compositional lines, and interiors, from bathroom fixtures to card-tables, are precisely arranged in conformity with some definite
crystalline in the firmness of its design character.
And it must be noted that these household utensils in no way resemble the average American "art-craft," that monstrous product of bourgeois attempts at the artistic; nor are the houses cast from the worn mint of the WilliamMorrisites. There is about all the work of the movement in Germany a certain freshness, a definite virility, that sets it off from other movements of the kind (Whistlerism in pictures, for example). Look ing at German and Austrian art, you can see pulses moving, see the whipping blood of life. There is not the pallid rigor of traditions long discarded, and the hollowness of conventions once useful, but now cast aside like an outgrown shell.
Yet beneath, at the root of this feverish activity which results in unique and effective design, there lies an absurdly simple fact. Look at the vases on page 870. One is composed of three cylinders set upon three spheres as a base; the other of three long and three short cylinders. In each case the result is an equilateral triangle. Look at the wallpainting from a German school of design. Its structural skeleton is a double square, on the diagonals and natural divisions of which the design elements are arranged with a powerfully effective formalization. Look at the poster by Ludwig Hohlwein, a square
By permission of "Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration"
By permission of "Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration" GEOMETRIC NEEDLEWORK DESIGNED BY
and a half long, with squares to furnish its chief striking quality. Look at the small advertisement on the same page, taken from a German magazine -whirling squares, suggestive of Cubism. Again, look at Pellar's painting, page 871, a square symmetrically divided. And look at the two hats designed by Emanuel Margold, architect. Their oddity comes from the fact that they, too, are composed with square and circle. Lastly, look at the needlework hatband at top of this page, an arrangement of pure geometrical squares and circles alternating with formalized leaves. In every case there is a unique design that makes a strongly persistent appeal to the attention.
The reason why this extraordinary productiveness can go on in Germany is, then, apparent. We need not ask how it happens that architects like Margold and Hohlwein are designing needlework, wallpaper, hats, advertising posters, dishes, bric-à-brac, and carpets, all of a very high quality, when no American architect would dream of so multiform an activity. The truth is that the Germans have discovered one of the secrets of design, and once a man does this, he is driven to a productivity that he cannot stop. It is as though he had put on the dancing-shoes of the fairy-tale. With a simple geometrical figure, Margold can de
CUBISTIC FURNITURE DESIGNED BY EMANUEL MARGOLD
By permission of "Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration"
By permission of "Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration"
CUBISTIC FURNITURE DESIGNED BY EMANUEL MARGOLD
SCHEMATIC DRAW. INGS-WILARS DE HONECORT
sign to infinity. Witness the three examples on page 873, where a square and the resultant cube shape all the forms in a room. Inevitably, watching the process, we think of a child playing with blocks, and moving them here and there until he gets an arrangement that suits his fancy. Yet the efficacy of the thing is undeniable. The Germans have found that the power lies in using blocks of a definitely geometrical shape. They prefer to lay bare rather than to conceal the motive, and their motives mean something to the intellect. They deal not in the empty shapes of a groping intuition, but in unabashed geometrical units. And the use of these is bringing about in Germany an unparalleled artistic ferment.
But despite the fact that there is here the seed of a great artistic truth, German architecture and decoration in the end generally become wearisome. They remind They remind you too much of a man who can whistle only one tune, and who is so enamoured of that that he whistles it continually. Definite as the compositional tone is, the questions nevertheless arise: Is there not a certain superficiality about this composition? Is there not a great noise that conceals a lack of depth? Does not German composition, like Cubism, tend to play upon the surface of a geometry that contains still greater unutilized possibilities?
SCHEMATIC DRAW. ING-WILARS DE HONECORT
are illuminated if we go back for a time into analogous cases in the art of the past. There is, for example, a certain architect of the twelfth century, one Wilars de Honecort, in whose work the same generative seed of truth is plainly implanted, and what he accomplished is full of suggestions. As an architect of such note that he was sent for from France to carry out certain projects in distant Hungary, and as a colleague of those men who brought Gothic architecture to its highest development, any revelations he might make of his methods should hold a particularly vital interest. Just such revelations he did make in his note-book, published in facsimile in Paris in 1858. Here there are, besides some very suggestive architectural drawings, a great many sketches of animals and men so well executed that they prove Wilars to have been a draftsman considerably superior to considerably superior to many of his painter contemporaries. painter contemporaries. It is peculiar, then, to find this man, like Dürer, in the grip of geometry. At a time when most architects were painters, and all painters were architects (Giotto, Michelangelo, and later Leonardo, for example), he sets up the human figure geometrically exactly as he would a building. He even prefaces this portion of his book with the remark, "Here begin the powers of the lines of portraiture, as taught by the art of geometry." And there follows an abundance of figures and faces made with the ingenious manipulation of geometrical shapes.
MEDIEVAL COMPOSITIONWILARS DE HONECORT
Suggestive as they are, however, it is not these that form the artistically valuable part of Wilars's work. This lies partly in the skill geometry has given him in schematic drawing,the swan, for example, so like the These questions famous Egyptian
MEDIEVAL COMPOSI TION-WILARS DE
geese of Meydum, but chiefly in his handling of figure groups. Notice the two instances here given: one a pair of trumpeters ranged on a five-pointed star (which Wilars uses elsewhere to construct a tower), the other a partly completed group of fighters, placed by means of squares the sides and diagonals of which furnish all the determining lines of the composition. Here the individual figures are crudely sketched in, but the point is that they are placed with certainty and with an eye chiefly on design value. It is merely a series of squares, yet without this Wilars might have experimented indefinitely and arrived nowhere.
SCHEMATIC DRAWINGWILARS DE HONECORT
And particularly is it worthy of note that the spontaneous method of composition to Wilars was not our modern method, which relies mainly upon "continuity of line." From the appearance of his book, such a vague and specious thing would not have entered his head as artistically rational. Having inherited directly the compositional methods of the great mosaic painters and decorators, he was concerned with definite shapes, angles, and distances, and not with an intangible line rhythm. Indeed, it would seem that the modern method, which has caught the advocates of the new movements along with the rest, did not arise until after the Renaissance, when the old medieval principles of Wilars and his contemporaries were either completely lost or rapidly disappearing. With Raphael came the distinct domination of curves over angles in composition, though still curves related to architectural settings, and a
consequent saccharinity that had seldom appeared before; the Madonna di Foglino sufficiently illustrates "continuity of line," combined with a certain quantum of geometric planning. Cimabue and Giotto composed like Wilars, chiefly with the square, powerful and simple compositions that have enabled the pictures of these men to outlive any technical crudities. Much of their work may seem childish and stiff to us, who are broken to the harness of realism, or have been taught to like a spineless and protoplasmic type of design. In reality, this design of the early masters went through a long apprenticeship to architecture, and came out set in its ways, perhaps, but at least vigorous, schematic, and decorative, capable of fulfilling a great function, and marked with the unmistakablestamp of creative human effort.
A painting in those days was always destined to fit a certain space in a certain building, and the very architectural necessities that gave it birth
affixed upon it simultaneously a strong schematic character. Here, in this birth out of architecture, lies the cause of that curious quality in early paintings which has made them preeminent for design. And in the light of the success achieved by German art and by the fundamental ideas of Cubists and Post-Impressionists, it is just here that design will bear investigation. Here may we seek to discover why the Germans are not wholly successful.
SHOWING RAPHAEL'S CONTINUITY OF LINE
THE TRIPLE MIRROR
BY KATHARINE FULLERTON GEROULD
Author of "The Mango Seed," "The Divided Kingdom
T has often been said that women have
I possess it myself; but I confess that I have sometimes wondered whether humor is not, in our sex, the essentially melancholy prerogative of celibate middle age. Do we not pay for it? If I had married the delightful adventurer whom I unmistakably loved, and threw over only out of bitter caution, should I have come into my inheritance? I wonder. The habitually happy women, I think, never have it. At all events, it is not a fireside flower. In the end you grow a little ashamed of it. You realize that if the comic spirit had always prevailed, there would have been no Francesca, no Iseult, no Héloïse; and that would have been a pity.
So it is with the sincerest respect that I declare Adela Waring to have had no sense of humor. She was originally composed for all sorts of pictorial and lyric effects. She is the kind of person who is always being caught in big situations; people have invariably taken her intensely. I've always felt myself a poor creature, morally, beside her. Physically, of course, all of us are poor creatures compared with Adela. Her type is not in fashion, to be sure; that kind of neck and waist went out long ago. Adela still orders her clothes from Burne-Jones and her attitudes from Rossetti. Esthetically, she is quite right, I fancy. A sense of humor might have led her to modernize her type; instead of which she unblushingly accentuates it. To the end, I dare say, she will wear green Liberty dresses in her motorcar. She is very lovely, but I have seen her when I felt that the poor thing must have mislaid her frame. I have wanted to plead :
"Don't-don't let yourself get knocked about with the tables and chairs, for the only men who could retouch you are dead. Even Watts has gone now, you know."
Of course Adela married early, and of course she married a painter. I really do
not think that any man who could not transmute her into art would put up with her. It would be a terrible thing for most of us to live forever with a masterpiece— with just one masterpiece.
I was most interested by the whole affair. Richard Waring, you see, was a very complicated creature. His existence was not restricted to visual impressions. If Adela had been an absolutely homogeneous person herself, it might all have been very different; but her Preraphaelite contours were limited to her exterior. They never worked in. She loved to go to the play; she loved to travel very fast; she adored meeting her fellow-beings on pretty nearly every kind of occasion devised for the purpose. So long as you let her obey her conscience by bundling her coppery hair into a pearl-sewn net, she really liked playing hide-and-seek all over a country house on a rainy afternoon. Of course she was spoiled. Who would not have been, with her success? Naturally, too, when still very young, she came to consider that the great emotions were her just due. That was the romantic taint in the pagan carelessness of her. She was not going to die without the coup de foudre. At least so she told me when we were both eighteen. I could see even then that she expected her beauty to get it for her. She was not really vain, but she honestly did not see how romance could pass her by; nor did any one else. Accordingly, when she married Richard Waring, every one realized that romance had come to her; and every one, as is every one's way, was very content to leave her alone with it and go on to something else. Even the people who had known Richard thought everything was settled for all time. Suppose her tastes were not wholly his-well, after all, he had only to look at her.
That did not prevent every one from looking very wise about five years later,I had been abroad four years, and was