It can be sensed that there is a new religion arising in the country, still without a prophet, recognized by no one. – Religions die slowly.
But the artistic style that was the inalienable possession of an earlier era collapsed catastrophically in the middle of the nineteenth century. There has been no style since. It is perishing all over the world as if seized by an epidemic. Since then, serious art has been the work of individual artists whose art has had nothing to do with ‘style’ because they were not in the least connected with the style or the needs of the masses. Their works arose rather in defiance of their times. They are characteristic, fiery signs of a new era that increase daily everywhere. This book will be their focus until dawn comes and with its natural light removes from these works the spectral appearance they now have. What appears spectral today will be natural tomorrow.
Where are such signs and works? How do we recognize the genuine ones? I Like everything genuine, its inner life guarantees its truth. All works of art created by truthful minds without regard for the work’s conventional exterior remain genuine for all times,
The present isolation of the rare, genuine artist is absolutely unavoidable for the moment. […]
The reasons, we think, are these: nothing occurs accidentally and without organic reason – not even the loss of artistic style in the nineteenth century. This fact leads us to the idea that we are standing today at the turning point of two long epochs, similar to the state of the world fifteen hundred years ago, When there was also a transitional period without art and religion – a period in ^hich great and traditional ideas died and new and unexpected ones took their #face. Nature would not wantonly destroy the religion and art of the people without a great purpose. We are also convinced that we can already proclaim the first signs of the time.
The first works of a new era are tremendously difficult to define. Who can see clearly what their aim is and what is to come? But just the fact that they do exist and appear in many places today, sometimes independently of each
100 The Legacy of Symbolism
other, and that they possess inner truth, makes us certain that they are the first signs of the coming new epoch – they are the signal fires for the pathfinders. The hour is unique. Is it too daring to call attention to the small, unique signs of the time?