Saturday, March 21, 2009

If you read nothing else on Matisse.....

Matisse the Master, A Life of Henri Matisse, The Conquest of Colour, 1909-1954, by Hilary Spurling.

A certain large percentage of those who went through art schools in the last 40 years see Matisse as THE pivotal artist of modernism and the key proponent of central ideas still directing much contemporary practice. Surprising then that so many misconceptions persist. Long popularized photos of Matisse cooing to exotic birds, playing the gentle professorial role to Picasso's badboy pose, standing like a wellgroomed shopkeeper next to pictures and rooms full of uplifting colour, suggest a person of perpetual calm. Just a misconception. Or perhaps the serenity achieved in the paintings came at great personal cost. We didn't imagine Matisse as a long-time insomniac struggling against nervous tension at every turn. What he achieved through 2 wars, family breakups and grave medical problems was hard fought. Spurling lays out a life of a gentle but driven man in a fascinating way. Much that is new is revealed. If you love Matisse, you may love him even more by the end.

I should have read it first...but didn' next up is, The Unknown Matisse: A Life of Henri Matisse; The Early Years, 1869-1908, by Hilary Spurling.

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