I was in New York cooking in the Spring of 2007 for dear friends in their brown town house, a few minutes walk away from Central Park. Ten minutes from the Artist Student’s League on 57th where I was a member every year for many years on the trot. Some of Americas greatest artists were taught there and then taught there themselves. So much variety of teaching so much variety of art, and so easy to be a member of. I think a years membership cost $125 in those days, then you could choose as many different courses that you had time for and of course afford, although the price for the courses weren’t expensive. I felt accepted there, one among many and loved all the differed water colour courses, still life drawing and nude study. I have never been quite adventurous enough to try my hand at sculpture maybe one day.
But this last paragraph was a waffle on the way to me telling you how long it takes to walk to the Met. Well hardly any time at all. I love going to the Met in-fact I love going to New York I miss it there .
Nizami Khamsa Iran 1624-25 from Fondazione Giorgio Cini. Venic
In the Spring of 2007 there were two exhibitions at the Met, one Venice and the Islamic World 828 -1797 and an exhibition of Ottoman Ceramic IZNIK, unbelievably beautiful arts of work’ 14th 15th 16th Century
I think it was the pottery that really caught my eye and that also reminded me of Matisses simple motives, but until then I hadn’t thought much about Matisses early years. The paintings so similar to those of Matisse, the colour, the flatness the strength of line and the use of pattern.
I am not surprised that Matisse took his inspiration from what seemed then more excotic artifacts perhaps more sensual artifacts, it is seems there was a lack on understanding between cultures and religions and the westerner was happy to make his own stories up about the meaning of the art.
It was a time of change of new ideas and Matisse was ready to take on new challenges. He had used cut outs and collage but it wasn’t until his illness that caused him to be moe or less bedridden that really changed his way of working. His cut outs became his new art form. An art form in their own right, powerful, mesmerising and of great beauty to my eyes.
He or is students painted paper with gouche, he designed his cut outs from much simplified forms. Similar works had already been done by Jean Arp, Kandinsky and Miro amongst others, but Matisse took it further.
He used to place his cut outs pinned to the wall and would spend weeks to months rearranging them, letting them speak to him. The breeze the white wall the light, the cut outs all took a part in the final work. He called his shapes his ‘signs’
The photo below is taken from a book I have called The Cut Outs of Henri Matisse by John Elderfield.
This painting was earlier but you can still see the progression towards simplicity and ‘signs’
For me some of the most beautiful works that stun me into stopping and really looking at them, are those that are the most simple. But for me can often have the most feeling. Hence my love of Rothko, perhaps.
I am in Bonnieux this week for a week off and I was going to write about my escapades here today but I found this old draft on my blog site and I have four books about Matisse with me, so I thought, well, just finish it off. There is so much more. but my next blog will be about my sojourn here and the great people I have met.