“Two sets of experiences have gone to the making of this book. First, Jean Charlot is an artist himself which gives him, in Mark Twain’s simile, the same advantage over the critic that the insect has over the entomologist – he knows his subject from the inside. Second, he has had years if close study of the art of the Mayas – “one of the few really ripe racial expressions the world has known” – so that he has had an unusual opportunity of looking at his subject from the outside, it being very difficult for a modern Frenchman to get inside the Mayan artist’s mind.
“The first half of the book is all of Mexico, Mayan and Modern: and the Modern means anonymous Indian (including very acute analyses of the Indian-colour sense and of the aesthetics of the Indian dance) and named Mexican artists – Manila, Poseda, Pintao, Orozco, Riveia, Merida.
“In the second half of the book he treats of the kind of moderns we know better – Impressionists, Cubists, Surrealists.
“The great value of Charlot’s writing is that he never goes far from the concrete case. A discussion of the problem of Animation in art he concludes with the sentence “The Cave men who animated the boar of Altamira would have hugged with reverence this other animalist Disney.” This essay is typical of the whole book – at once learned and perfectly lucid: There are twenty illustrations inserted just at those points where without them lucidity might be ever so little dimmed.”