To Walter Mertens
Dear Walter, 24 November 1932
I am entirely in agreement with the spirit of your essay on Picasso.
I am only against artists getting away with it like the theologians, about whom one may not say anything critical.
I don’t see why artists should not have exactly the same human psychology as everybody else.
The claim to be the infallible mouthpiece of God is as odious to me in art as in theology.
From the artistic standpoint I can well appreciate the achievements of modern art, but from the standpoint of the psychologist I have to say what the nature of these achievements is.
In my article in the N.Z.Z. I expressly pointed out that I wasn’t talking of art but of psychology.
Yet psychology seems to be as hateful to artists as it is to theologians, and as I say I find this extremely repugnant.
Moreover, art fails entirely in its educative purpose if people don’t see that it depicts the sickness of our time.
That is why this art is neither enjoyable nor elevating, but as you rightly say a “scream.”
But a scream is always just that-a noise and not music.
Hence I shall hold unswervingly to the view that modern art is much more correctly judged from the psychological rather than from the artistic standpoint.
“Kunst” [art] comes from ” Kinnen” [ability, skill); “stammering” is not skill but only a miserable attempt to speak.
Naturally I don’t want to discourage modern art; it must continue its attempts and I wish it luck.
The creative spirit cannot be discouraged anyway, otherwise it would not be creative.
So nothing untoward has happened.
With best greetings,
My dear Mrs. N.,
Yours, Carl ~Letters, Volume 1, Pages 107-108.
[NZZ refers to [“Picasso,” Neue Zurcher Zeitung, 13 Nov. 32; now in CW 15.]