Spring 1948 • Vol. X No. 2 Nonfiction |

Things Left Unsaid (Selections from “Choses Tues”)

From the French.    Painting. The object of painting is uncertain. If it were definite—such as, to produce the illusions of things seen, or, to amuse the eye and the mind with a certain musical distribution of colors and figures—the problem would, indeed, be simpler, and there would, undoubtedly, be more works that are beautiful (that is to say, conformable to such definite exigencies), but no works at all inexplicably beautiful. There would be none at all of those that cannot be exhausted.   I pause before this picture of "Reclining Venus," and at first I look at it from rather far. This first glance recalls to mind a saying that I often heard uttered by Degas: "It's flat, like beautiful painting." Saying difficult to explain. Admirably clear in front of such a beautiful portrait of Raphael's. Divine flatness: no trompe-l'oeil; no thick laying on of paint, no lumps, no lights superimposed; no intense contrasts. I say to myself that perfect

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