29 OCTOBER 1937, Page 19


[To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.] Snt,—The point common to Mr. Blunt's and Mr. Coldstream' 's letters, and incidentally to the former's criticism of Barbara Hepworth's sculpture which appears in the same issue of The Spectator, is that the modern artist has lost " contact with life," and that if only he would give up his " isolation " he would have a million-wide public instead of, as at present, a circle of a few' thonssind—a " happy few."

I would like to ask what exactly Mr. Blunt and Mr. Coldstream mean by this phrase " contact with life." From my knowledge of the lives of Picasso and Barbara Hepworth, I should say that they both led extremely full and varied lives, in intimate contact with their friends, their children, their fellow-workers and all the associates and activities which artists in all ages have normally had. I can only suspect that by " contact with life " your correspondents mean something like " contact with a political party," or " contact with a particular section of workers " (for the artists in question already have full contact:with their fellow-workers in the craft they practise). It is for Mr. Blunt or Mr. Coldstream to show that the very specialised kind of contact they have in mind has had, in this age' or any other, any beneficial effect on art.- As for the example of Mexico, quoted by Mr. Blunt, I submit that it 'is irrelevant, for it takes no account of the quality of the art. I do not wish even to suggest that your art critic is prepared to judge art by its quantitative appeal, for what then would be the use of art criticism? We could decide everything by vote.—Yours faithfully,

Reform Glut), Pall. Mall, S.W. r HERBERT READ.