• U.S.

Art: Independents

3 minute read

For some years Malcolm Jameson, one-time chief draftsman in the U. S. Navy, felt that his present occupation of insurance salesman did not give him a full emotional outlet. At loss for a hobby, he purchased a large wooden salad bowl, heated the tip of an icepick red hot and traced on the bowl a map which he tastefully tinted with Mercurochrome. A group of Mr. Jameson’s salad bowls, which he prefers to call “Segmaps,” were on view in Manhattan’s Grand Central Palace last week, priced at $100 to $300.

Pierre J. Martin, a little French painter of 62 who invented an unsuccessful sort of motion picture screen, dreamed not long ago that he flew to Mars and found there a race of little people with long hair, pointed ears and chickens’ feet. They were eating cherries. He painted a picture of this and last week it was on the walls of the same exhibition (see cut).

Caroline Durieux, a genteel Creole lady from the seedy Bohemia of New Orleans’ French Quarter, grew depressed at the closed shutters and slatternly denizens of Bourbon Street where she lives, and painted a picture of several chinless, crop-headed characters, melancholy as bloodhounds with distemper. This she labeled Unemployed (see cut) and sent it all the way to New York to take its place with the rest.

Edward Anderson, an unemployed iron worker from The Bronx, is in the habit of copying newspaper photographs in his spare time, and these, too, were exhibited.

Because he is president of the National Academy of Design, successful Artist Jonas Lie thought it would be diplomatic to send a landscape, priced at $2,500. So that was also on hand with more than 1 ,000 other exhibits by more than 400 exhibitors, when the Society of Independent Artists (“No Jury, No Prizes”) opened its doors for its 21st annual show. In 1917 when Artist John Sloan and a few friends founded the Independents’ Show it filled a vital need. The National Academy was neolithic in its conservatism, few dealers would handle the men who were attempting to apply modern painting to the U. S. scene. The Independents’ Utopian ambition was to hold an annual show where anyone with several dollars and a picture might exhibit, regardless of his artistic beliefs.

In a few years most of the founding Independents were recognized as U. S. classics, but as public appreciation of art increased the Independents’ show lost practically all excuse for existence. The business of discovering artistic talent has become highly organized. Not a single first-rate critic bothered to write a serious review of the Independents’ show last week. Newspaper humorists, who flocked to it, privately divided the exhibitors into three groups: successful veteran painters who continue to show with the Independents for auld lang syne; harmless amateurs; nuts.

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