From the exhibition catalogue, written by Inez Cunningham Stark:
The Renaissance Society in its exhibitions for 1939-1940 will postulate that art is timeless. That true works of art whether contemporary or antique have in common with all other works of art indefinable but recognizable qualities which transcend fashion. This blood-kinship can be traced not by physical likenesses between objects but by their common possession of reference to universal essentials. Before we prove that art is timeless we must define art, not with reference o the trivium but as the word is used in common contemporary speech. Art: a device employed, consciously or unconsciously, by creatively skilled men to perpetuate the abstraction, beauty, and which renders it recognizable to other men in all times and age. In approximating nature the skill and taste of man transcends nature by presenting the essentials rather than the imitation thereof. He creates out of the nature of his time and place an object universally valid not by reference to that time and place but to the life of man itself and as design. That a stevedore might not recognize in the nike of samothrace an object of beauty is relevant to the quality of the stevedore rather that to the nike. A Hellenistic Greek might not recognize a bird in Brancusi’s Bird in Flight but he undoubtedly would recognize it as an object of beauty in design.
Sources of artistic inspiration are naturally indigenous to the time and place in which the artist lives, therefore, a knowledge of cultures is necessary to full aesthetic experience, to the recognition of those essentials to which art reduces nature. The sources of contemporary art are necessarily universal by reason of contemporary acceptance on the part of artists of there devices of science which have eliminates time and space. These sources the Renaissance Society hopes to trace for its friends in visual experience this season.