Page:Rolland - People's Theater.djvu/25

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disorders. It is not only in the domain of ethics that "a meridian decides the truth" and "a river fixes the boundary"; it is the same in art. Certain ages proscribed all representation of the nude, not only on moral but esthetic grounds. The sculptors of the Middle Age shunned the naked body as a thing deformed, believing that "clothing was necessary to bodily grace." The painters of the School of Giotto found "no perfect proportion"[1] in the female body. The men of the seventeenth century who knew most about Gothic architecture,[2] condemned it for the identical reasons which render it most beautiful in our eyes. A genius of the eighteenth century[3] considered it an insult to be compared with Shakespeare. A great Italian painter[4] spoke of Flemish art in derision, saying that it was "good for women, priests, and other pious people." Tolstoy's Moujik is disgusted with the Venus of Milo. It is possible that what is beautiful to the cultured few may seem ugly to the people, and that it fails to satisfy their needs, which are as legitimate as our own. Let us not blindly seek to impose upon the people of the twentieth century the art and thought of the aristocratic society of the past. And besides, the People's Theater has more important work to do than to collect the fragments of the bourgeois theater. It is not our intention to increase the audiences of the established theaters; we are not working for them: we have only

  1. Cennino Cennini, in 1437.
  2. Fénelon.
  3. Gluck.
  4. Michelangelo.