Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Matisse: Radical Invention/ Chicago Art Institue, March 20 - June 20

I think many just shrug their shoulders at the name Matisse. Assume he's overrated, basic, and a bit like everybody else. There was a time when I may have agreed. But, a little over a year ago I came across his painting 'The Piano Lesson' (1916) and fell in love with the work (this marked a second painting I loved by Matisse. 'The Red Room' being the first). Of course, sometimes you can love the art and not the artist. But, this sudden burst of admiration for this piece led me to flip through art books of Matisse. I found myself interested. Then, I was able to see the Matisse: Radical Invention exhibit at the Chicago Art Institute, twice, and I am officially a fan.

The first set of pieces to make me pause are called 'Jeanette I - IV.' They are a series of four busts. The first bust is a classical style bust. Very detailed, flattering, and grand. As the busts progress they begin to grow abstract. Almost grotesque. But, not in a hideous way. In a way showing exploration at play. This was the first time I realized Matisse wasn't an artist with a single talent. He started out with artistic tradition.

What proves his talent in the traditional is his painting 'La desserte' (1893). This piece is so perfectly confined in the definition of classical still life painting. It is bland in comparison to many still life paintings. But, only because it manages to be exactly what a still life painting is meant to be. In this painting we see Matisse's ability as an artist working within the confines of "expectation."

A few other favorite pieces from the exhibit... 'The Blue Window' (1913) and 'Portrait of Olga Merson' (such incredible movement in the brush strokes).

It is easy to see the inspiration Matisse had on others. Matisse's painting 'The Studio, Quai Saint-Michel' must have been inspiration for Edward Hopper's works of lounging and longing. Matisse's 'Jeanette' busts must have been what caused de Kooning to create 'Head #3.'


No comments:

Post a Comment