I imagine that practically all true painters would rather do their pictures under and for a given physical condition, to support and be supported by architecture; but with the unfortunate present-day elimination of paintings from most architectural problems, most artists have to paint their pictures for an imaginary condition. The present production of paintings has become absolutely unmindful of the true, function of a painting, which is to decorate in collaboration with the other arts — architecture and sculpture.
It is necessary to bear these facts in mind in trying to do justice to a large aggregate of canvases in an international exhibition, or any exhibition. Thousands of pictures, created by a host of different artists, are temporarily thrown together. The result, of course, can never be entirely satisfying. Many devices are employed to overcome this very disturbing condition and with varying success. The hanging of pictures against neutral backgrounds, the grouping of works of one man, the selection of works of similar tonality, colour schemes, technique, subject, style, etc. — these are all well known methods of trying to overcome the essential artificiality of the methods of exhibition of modern paintings. I doubt whether so long as we insist upon art exhibitions of the conventionally accepted type, we shall ever be able to present pictures with due regard to their meaning. We must not make the mistake of blaming a director of an exhibition for a difficulty which he cannot possibly overcome. So long as painters turn out thousands of pictures, we can expect only the results which are much in evidence in all modern exhibitions. The fault is entirely with the artist, who is forever painting easel pictures, and neglecting the great field of decorative painting. On investigation of our exhibition we shall find that the good picture — that is, the picture of a certain respectful attitude toward its function, which is largely decorative — is far less injured by unavoidable neighbors than the loud-mouthed canvas of the “Look! Here I am!” variety, which is afraid of being overlooked. Art exhibitions of the generally adopted modern type are logically intolerable, and the only solution of the problem of the correct presentation of pictures is to display fewer of them, within certain individual rooms, designed by artists, where a few pictures will take their place with their surroundings in a unity of artistic expression.