Monday, March 5, 2012

Brooklyn Street Opening

This is an 11x14 pastel.

In case you are wondering why so much Brooklyn. My grandson, who was born almost a month ago, lives in Brooklyn. I expect to make many trips to Brooklyn, which is fortunate since I have wanted to do urban pictures for a while, and Brooklyn is an amazing place.

Matisse: Matisse invented modern painting. Here's an excerpt from the Matisse book by Lawrence Gowing, writing about the great period from 1910 to 1918 or so and the painting The Blue Window : "The supremacy that colour attained in these pictures was quite new and unparalleled. Colour was no longer put to any descriptive or expressive purpose. It was simply itself, the homogeneous primal substance. The development culminated in an inspired invention. Can anyone forget when he first became aware of La fenetre bleue? In a moment one knew one of the simplest and most radiant ideas in the whole of art, the idea that the shapes of things are immaterial except as fantastic vessels -- a dish, a vase, a pot like a chalice, a tree like a bunch of balloons--to contain the airy brightness of the world."

This comment stuck out at me because this very painting I did contemplate many a time years ago.

Here's another comment from John Elderfield from the 1992 retrospective catalog: "Throughout his work, that which separates and connects does not receive light but gives light. His paintings are not windows onto an external nature. They are not windows through which light passes, but mirrors that return light, and with a transformed nature. Matisse thought of his paintings as emitting a beneficent radiation."

We may take Matisse for granted these days, but in his day, when he was first creating the magnificent paintings of the 1910-18 period, he was much maligned. Spurling writes that for years he suffered from intense anxiety attacks and insomnia. We read about a lot of artists who didn't make it because of the physical/emotional/spiritual difficulties they encountered, and Spurling indicates that Matisse, no matter what one may think of some of his art, was a stubborn survivor.

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