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To realise a work of art, it isn't enough just to know the relations between colour and form and to apply the rules that govern them; the artist must in addition be able to free himself from the state of servility that is implicit in work of this kind. Any painter with a healthy sensibility and a suitable degree of intelligence can give us pictures that are well painted; but as to awakening beauty, only he can do it who is chosen by Taste. (23) We use that term to indicate the faculty that enables us to become aware of Quality; (24) we are not concerned with notions of good taste or bad taste, which correspond to nothing positive. A faculty is neither good nor bad, it is more or less developed.

(23)     'Goût' in  1912; 'goût' in 1947/80. Subsequently the word appears in 1912 without the capital.

(24)  'la Qualité' in 1912; 'la qualité' in 1947/80.

People consider that the savage who is delighted by coloured glass beads only possesses a very rudimentary level of taste; but we have a thousand reasons for considering that there is not much to choose between the savage and the supposedly civilised man who can only appreciate, say, Italian painting or Louis XV furniture. Taste can be judged by the number of the qualities it is able to discern; but when it goes beyond a certain number, its intensity fails and it vanishes away into eclecticism (25). Taste is innate; but like the sensibility from which it is derived, it owes a great deal to the will. There are many who deny this. But what could be more obvious than the influence of the will on our senses? It asserts itself to such a degree that we can, as soon as we so wish, isolate the frail sound of an oboe in the midst of the metallic thundering of an orchestra. In the same way, we can even come to enjoy [savourer] certain qualities whose existence only our reason allows us to assert.

(25)   'excède un certain chiffre, il diminue d'intensité et s'évanouit dans l'éclectisme' in 1912; 'excède un certain chiffre, il s'évanouit dans l'éclectisme'  in 1947/80.

Is it good in itself, or harmful, the influence will has on taste? Taste can only be developed by the will along a plane that is parallel to that of consciousness. 

If a painter of modest intelligence tries to savour qualities that for him are not yet anything more than the abstract products of a process of reasoning; and if he attempts in this way to augment the little talent that he possesses by virtue of his unaided sensibility, his painting will certainly be deplorable - false and stiff. If a superior mind sets himself the same end, he will find it wonderfully advantageous (26).

(26)  'tirera des avantages miraculeux.' in 1912; 'tirera des avantages.' in 1947/80.

Will exercised on taste with a view to the qualitative possession of the world is of value if it manages to bring every conquest into a state of dependence on the nature of whatever material has been chosen. 

Without any literary, allegorical or symbolic artifice, making use uniquely of inflexions of line and colours, a painter can show in one single picture a town in China, a town in France, hills, seas, animals, plants, peoples with their history and their desires - everything which in external reality keeps them apart. Distance or time, concrete thing or pure idea, there is nothing that can be said in the language of the poet, the musician or the philosopher that cannot be said in the language of the painter. 

The more remote from his art the ideas the painter can bring into subjection to it might seem to be, the more beauty is affirmed. To the same degree, it becomes more difficult. It will be a sign of good sense on the part of a mediocre painter if he limits himself to acting on the basis of ideas [notions] that have already long been used by painting. Isn't a simple Impressionist jotting [notation] preferable to those compositions that are streaming [qui ruissellent] with literature, metaphysics or geometry that has been insufficiently envisaged in pictorial terms [picturalisées]? We want an integral plastic whole [l'intégration plastique]. Either it is perfect or it is nothing; we want to realise style and not a parody of style. 

This exercise of will on taste will help in a process of selection. It is by the manner in which an apprentice [néophyte] responds to discipline that we judge the quality of his calling. 

Among the Cubist painters, there are those who try painfully to create an impression of acting with a determined will and being deep; there are others who move freely in the highest planes. These latter - it is not our business to name them - are like the great Mystics: the restraints to which they subject themselves are only an outer covering to the intensity of their passion [fervour]. 

Ever since the decree went out that great painting died with the Primitives - why was it not said that great literature died with Homer? - certain painters, wanting to bring it back to life again, have set about shamelessly plagiarising the old Italians, the old Germans, the old French and, doubtless with the intention of bringing it all up to date, have had the idea of helping their labours by means which ill-informed people are tempted to attribute to Cubism. As the language of these old reprobates [roués] - a sort of esperanto or volapuck (27) - is aimed at everyone, it wasn't long before they claimed to be speaking, or at least to be about to speak, the language of great art that everyone can understand. So let us try once and for all to rid ourselves of a wearisome misconception.

(27)  A universal language announced in 1879 by Johann Martin Schleyer.

 We have agreed that the ultimate aim of painting is to touch the crowd. But it must not address the crowd in the language of the crowd; it must speak in its own language with a view to moving, to dominating, to directing, not to being understood. It is the same with religions and with philosophies. (28) The artist who refuses all concessions, who does not explain himself or say [raconte] anything, accumulates a force within himself whose radiance gives light to everything that surrounds him.

(28)   'les religions et les philosophies' in 1912; 'les religions' in 1947/80.

It is by realising ourselves within ourselves that we can purify humanity; it is by increasing our own riches that we can enrich other people; it is by lighting the heart of the star for our own intimate delight that we can exalt the Universe. 

In sum, Cubism, which has been accused of being a system, condemns every system. 

The technical simplifications that have led to this accusation being made are the result of a legitimate concern to use nothing that does not correspond exactly to the conditions imposed by the plastic nature of the material itself [aux conditions de la matière plastique], a noble commitment [voeu] to purity.  We can agree that there is a method in this but we do not allow that method should be confused with system. 

To the partial liberties that were won by Courbet, Manet, Cézanne and the Impressionists, Cubism substitutes a liberty that is indefinite. (29)  

(29)   'indéfinie' in 1912, 'infini' in 1947/80.

From now on, now that objective knowledge is finally recognised to be a chimera and everything that the herd understands as natural form proved to be a convention, the painter will know no laws other than those of Taste. 

Henceforth, by studying all manifestations of life, whether physical or mental, he will learn how they should be applied. If he still takes off into metaphysics, cosmogony or mathematics, he should be satisfied with extracting out of them what is savourous, and refrain from demanding of them certainties they do not possess. At their deepest level all that is to be found in them is love and desire. 

A realist, he will fashion the real in the image of his own mind, since there is only one reality, our own, when we impose it on everyone. And it is faith in Beauty that gives us the necessary strength. (30)

(30)   The 1947/80 version reads: 'the painter will know no laws other than those which rule over [régissent] coloured forms.
'By studying all manifestations of life, whether physical or mental, he will learn how they should be applied and if he takes off into metaphysics, cosmogony or mathematics, he should be satisfied with  asking them for the secret of those analogies and of those relations which, taken all together, [dont l'ensemble] constitute a harmonious reality. There is only one reality, our own, when we impose it on everyone. And it is faith in Beauty that gives us the necessary strength.'