Long looking at paintings is equivalent to being dropped into a foreign city, where gradually, out of desire and despair, a few key words, then a little syntax make a clearing in the silence. Art... is a foreign city, and we deceive ourselves when we think it familiar... We have to recognize that the language of art, all art, is not our mother-tongue.
While working in California, I met William Valentiner and Edgar Richardson of the Detroit Institute of Arts. I mentioned a desire which I had to paint a series of murals about the industries of the United States, a series that would constitute a new kind of plastic poem, depicting in color and form the story of each industry and its division of labor. Dr. Valentiner was keenly interested, considering my idea a potential base for a new school of modern art in America, as related to the social structure of American life as the art of the Middle Ages had been related to medieval society.
The art historians are the real wreckers of art, Reger said. The art historians twaddle so long about art until they have killed it with their twaddle. Art is killed by the twaddle of the art historians. My God, I often think, sitting here on the settee while the art historians are driving their helpless flocks past me, what a pity about all these people who have all art driven out of them, driven out of them for good, by these very art historians. The art historians’ trade is the vilest trade there is, and a twaddling art historian, but then there are only twaddling art historians, deserves to be chased out with a whip, chased out of the world of art, Reger said, all art historians deserve to be chased out of the world of art, because art historians are the real wreckers of art and we should not allow art to be wrecked by the art historians who are really art wreckers. Listening to an art historian we feel sick, he said, by listening to an art historian we see the art he is twaddling about being ruined, with the twaddle of the art historian art shrivels and is ruined. Thousands, indeed tens of thousands of art historians wreck art by their twaddle and ruin it, he said. The art historians are the real killers of art, if we listen to an art historian we participate in the wrecking of art, wherever an art historian appears art is wrecked, that is the truth.