Thursday, April 15, 2010

Matisse...And Re-Working One's Art

(On Friday, A Re-Working, Errors Corrected)

The Chicago Art Institute is showcasing a very special exhibit on Henri Matisse titled
"Radical Invention 1913-1917".   I had the good fortune to sample the exhibit yestarday, on a brilliant, rare warm and mild Chicago afternoon.

Matisse is known for his use of color and simple lines, leaving a viewer with an emotional response to the deceptively simple images, rather than filling in details for us.

The exhibit uses a series of sculptures, drawings, paintings and prints to demonstrate how the artist's work evolved, so that an etherial composition like The Dance finally becomes, after years of reworking and experimentation and simplifying, the masterpiece Bathers by a River, both variations on the female nude in a pastoral setting.

Matisse's "rough drafts",
the sculptures and paintings
that were his "studies",
have been
studied and collected as
fine works of art in themselves.
He referred to these as his
"Methods of Modern Construction." 
Re-framing of  images, scraping of pigment, diluting paint or laying it heavily, re-considering color, and a disciplined simplifying of the subject, came together and has remained influential.

It made me wonder what insights we might have gathered if publishing-houses also published the early notes, notebooks, and rough drafts of famous novels. Oh, how I wish I could have some of these for study!  Sometimes a novel or short story is printed along with its film screenplay, which allows one to analyze the choices a screenwriter has made to craft a novel or story cinematically.  (Annie Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain", for example, translates wonderfully into Diana Ossana's and Larry Mc Murty's screenplay, and stands as a how-to of successful adaptation.)

I felt calm in the presence of Matisse and his work.  He said at one point that painting for him was like an armchair.   (This was before he became discouraged from the medium and turned to sculpture, and printing).  Another great quote: "Poetry is to prose as dancing is to walking".

I was also comforted by the fact that Matisse gained great fame with his struggle, and experimentation, and that even what he considered his imperfect works were appreciated even after he reconsidered them, and created greater ones....

Perhaps when my dream of achieving world renown as a novelist is realized, I can also share my doodles and rough writing, as a way to enlighten, and encourage, others.

Click on this link for a video clip with some terific information on Matisse and his works.

I leave you with my personal favorite,  Interior With Goldfish, also in the Art Institute Exhibit.  The way light is reflected from an unknown source, and rendered in shades of color, holds me in thrall...

No comments:

Post a Comment