What strange times we are living in! We are surrounded by ugliness on every side. We allow horrible buses to disfigure the streets of Paris without protest, and our houses are the ugliest possible…. Yet, there is not a young girl going into town with her mother who does not carry on herself a whole museum: her ring is signed Such-and-Such, her tooled-leather book cover is signed So-and-So, her belt is signed This-and-That, etc.
Our time will have a style of its own when people attach less importance to signatures; then even buses will be graceful. I recognize, however, that there is more than a mere promise in the general effort of our artists to endow us with a style. We may, infact, have a style… “without knowing it,” the way Molière’s M. Jourdain spoke prose.
—Guillaume Apollinaire, in L’Intransigeant,
March 8, 1910; translated by Susan Suleiman