The small Philippine section makes one curious to know whether there is nothing in the tradition of this people related to the art of Asia that could serve as a basis for their artistic endeavors. To any serious-minded person it must be evident that the Filipino is not going to work out his artistic salvation by way of the Paris studio. It must come out of the soil, so to speak, and must be based on the racial, religious, and other national elements. It would do the Filipino people good to see their collection in close proximity to that of other nations. Aside from that, a natural sequence of artistic development by developing the more decorative arts of making useful things beautiful — such things as pots and pans, rugs, and jewelry — would be much more becoming than this European affectation. The real art of the Filipinos is to be seen in their art industries in the Philippine Building.
For historical reasons alone, if not for supremacy along artistic lines, Japan and China should by right be dealt with at the very beginning. But having had, since time immemorial, a very detached, highly original note, they fit in anywhere, if not best in between the art of the Romanic and Germanic races. Practically the entire world owes a great debt to Japan, for a certain outlook in decorative art has been adopted from Japan by the best artists of the world. Oriental art is so truly an art of the people, devoting itself most closely to the artistic development of the utilitarian things of life, that to see them at their best one has to look at their furniture, including folding screens, pottery, jewelry, rugs, and practically everything else that is needed in the daily life of the people. The art of China and Japan is so old that its real origin is almost a matter of guesswork, and has a certain general obscurity to most outsiders, owing to language, religion, and customs. This has led to a commercial exploitation of their art in Europe, and in America particularly, based mostly on humbug and partly on facts. If all the pottery, rugs and furniture said to have come from distinguished artists and from even more distinguished circles of ownership, mostly palaces of the Ming dynasty, were enumerated, there would be nothing left to have come from the atmosphere of the ordinary Oriental. The Japanese and Chinese are taking quick advantage of the guilelessness of the western lover of art, and much that is to be seen in either one of the two sections is rather a concession to western demand than to native Oriental talent. Only the special student of oriental art will consent to learn enough of the Japanese or Chinese language to familiarize himself with any other than the commonly known artists of these countries, and all that one can do within the frame of an international exhibition is to single out those things which appeal on the basis of certain artistic principles which are the same the world over. To go into the many religious and other sentimental considerations which are sometimes the basic justification for some very extraordinary fantastic things, charmingly exploited by certain art dealers, is impossible within the scope of this book.