Indeed it isn’t! Joe works much harder than the students who go to the schools. Of course, he doesn’t paint by the clock.
But the Louvre! All those beautiful pictures, those priceless treasures! What about the Louvre?
The Louvre? It’s a museum.
What do you mean by “it’s a museum”?
I mean that it’s the place to put pictures in when they are dead.
Dead? A great masterpiece dead?
Of course. No man lives forever. Nobody that was ever born was useful enough to live forever. The bigger a man is the longer his influence is creative, in art and everything else, but the time always comes when his value is spent. When the world needs a new influence.
It’s really wonderful, Mr. Wentworth, how knowing the truth about art shows one the truth about other things. When I remember what I used to believe!
But see here, young man, you wouldn’t do away with the Louvre, would you? Why, what would happen if these ideas were carried out....
No, I wouldn’t do away with it. Why should I? If to burn it down would wake people up to life, I’d do it in a minute. But it wouldn’t. They would only sanctify the superstition and make it immortal. No, leave the Louvre as it is. It’s really quite useful.
But good gracious! Useful?
Yes. Like history. To do away with the Louvre would be to destroy a part of history. There’s no good doing that. We need history—it cranks up life—but we’ve got to recognize that after all it is only history, not life itself—not art.
But what is art, if the Louvre isn’t?
Don’t you see, Mr. Wentworth? If you could only get for a moment into the stream of experience where Joe and the others brought me! A picture is art as long as it’s alive—as long as it can give back the fresh, first-hand impulses that were put into it. After that—when life has flowed on and set up new impulses requiring a different expression—then a picture drops back upon a lower level. What Joe calls history.