Tuesday, November 24, 2020

be ruthless with opponents of modern painting

Cover of Hampton's Magazine (1910)

Stephen Potter
, "Notes on Exhibitionship"
in The Complete Upmanship (New York: New American Library, 1978), p. 202—

Be fairly ruthless, I think, with opponents of "modern" painting. If you are lucky enough to find a man who still says: "I don't know about pictures, but I know what I like," point out to him that because he does not know about pictures he does not know what he likes, and repeat this in a thundering voice. If he whimpers back something about it all being too advanced for him, point out exactly how many years C├ęzanne died before he was born, and the precise date of the exhibition of the first Modiglianis in London. Exaggerate both these dates and say, "After all, Matisse and your great-grandmother are exact contemporaries." If your man says of some picture, "Yes, but what does it mean?" ask him, and keep on asking him, what his carpet means, or the circular patterns on his rubber shoe-soles. Make him lift up his foot to look at them.

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