“The life of art”

I’m reading a book on the history of horror movies (finally, prompted by a haunted house analysis that Dark Daughta linked). My horror book quotes a character from Upton Sinclair’s 1922 novel They Call Me Carpenter, talking about The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

This picture could not possibly have been produced in America. For one thing, nearly all the characters are thin. … One does not find American screen actors in that condition. Do your people care enough about the life of art to take a risk of starving for it?