WINSOR M’CAY’S LAST PICTURE
By Arthur Brisbane
It Shows a National Game of “Blind Man’s Buff,” American Business Blindfolded
AS HE WORKED at his pictures, not in isolation but in a room with other artists, where young office boys might watch and study his methods, Winsor McCay would look up occasionally to ask with ingenuous sincerity, whoever might be near him: “There, do you think that is PLAIN enough?”
His desire above all was to make his meaning clear, plain. He succeeded in doing so in this as in so many other pictures.
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A drawing by Winsor McCay calls for little comment, except that which takes form in the brain of him who studies the picture.
Winsor McCay has certainly made this picture “plain.” Business men will not miss its meaning.
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Mr. McCay did not outline this picture in any spirit of criticism or final judgment. He endeavored to show the business intelligence and enterprise that have created this country’s industries, its commerce and prosperity, as they are NOW.
There are various opinions of what we call “American Big Business.” But there cannot be two opinions as to the work that Big Business has done. It has created the factories, the mills, the railroads, the new industrial ideas and methods and [the payrolls] of America. Selfishly, if you like, mistakenly, with unwise methods sometimes, but it has created them.
Business, like a man blindfolded, in the game of “Blind Man’s Buff,” with many little children around him, groping with hands spread out, wondering just where he is and in what direction he is going.
The gnome-like creatures that surround him are all the creation of the New Era, chief among them, little, busy NRA. These little creatures under the direction of college professors, some of whom, perhaps know less about business than those who CREATE the business, have made the rules of this new “Blind Man’s Buff” game that American Business must play, doing the best it can.
The little gnomes have not only written new rules for the game, they have also invented new taxes to pay the expenses of the game, and the big blindfolded individual must simultaneously play the game under the new rules and find the money to pay the new taxes.
It is not an easy game for him, as yet.
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The object of the game, as in old-fashioned “Blind Man’s Buff,” is to seize and identify one of the players, giving that player’s name correctly, without removing the bandage on the eyes, or “cheating” by peeking.
American Business and Industry would have no difficulty in identifying the lady that they are seeking, if once she were firmly held, but at present the blinded giant is walking in the wrong direction, that which he seeks behind him.
Perhaps he will turn soon, seize and hold the handsome lady, and make us all happy, while the little gnomes and their professorial papas dance and sing in a ring.
But that hasn’t happened yet.
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After sketching in pencil, the picture which Mr. Powers later finished in ink, in a style quite different from that of Mr. McCay, the latter commented, according to his custom, on the work in hand:
“You know how foolish a man feels when his eyes are blindfolded. Even when one of your children steps up, puts both hands over your eyes, and says: ‘Guess who?’ you feel that the world has suddenly changed. The world is what we see and, without sight, nothing is real.
“My business is making pictures, and I don’t pretend to judge the New Era, the professors or the new theories. But I do know that many business men feel as if they have been suddenly blindfolded, that they no longer can control their business direction or their own movements.
“Perhaps they were going too fast in the wrong direction, perhaps they need to be blindfolded for a while. I don’t know.
“But I do know as a maker of pictures that it would be difficult for me to get ahead in my line if somebody fastened a handkerchief around my eyes.
“And I know that some of the ablest business men in the United States today feel as I should feel if blindfolded.”
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Many able Americans, trying to comply with all the orders of these little gnomes and at the same time to meet their payrolls, will say “Amen” to Mr. McCay’s words, and agree heartily with the thought expressed in this, his LAST PICTURE.
Hamilton Daily News Journal (Hamilton, Ohio) Aug 18, 1934