Tyler Green talks to Rebecca Rabinow about Henri Matisse and his process of investigating a visual ideas on multiple canvases. Rabinow is one of the three curators of the exhibition Matisse: In Search of True Painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, on view through March 17, 2013.
In the web introduction for the show Rabinow writes that Matisse "used his completed canvases as tools, repeating compositions in order to compare effects, gauge his progress, and, as he put it, 'push further and deeper into true painting.' While this manner of working with pairs, trios, and series is certainly not unique to Matisse, his need to progress methodically from one painting to the next is striking... For Matisse, the process of creation was not simply a means to an end but a dimension of his art that was as important as the finished canvas."
Goodrich writes: "As the 20th century’s greatest colorist, [Matisse] possessed an uncanny instinct for the energy of colors—for the way shifting hues illuminate a painting from within—but other qualities as well: drive, an anxious but methodical disposition, a willingness to fail and a reverence for great painting... In Search of True Painting is the rare show that reveals and connects art on its own, intimate terms—in its purely visual manifestation. Looking on, we absorb the evidence of one of the greatest minds of modern art, a painter who, to a unique degree, combined intelligence, self-awareness, and knowledge of precedents."
Smith writes that Matisse "communed with artists of the distant or not-so-distant past, from Giotto to Cézanne, and periodically brushed shoulders with Cubism and the work of his chief rival, Picasso. But his main desire was, as he put it, to 'push further and deeper into true painting.' This project was in every sense an excavation, and he achieved it partly by digging into his own work, revisiting certain scenes and subjects again and again and at times also making superficially similar if drastically divergent copies of his paintings. His rigorous yet unfettered evolution is the subject of [the exhibition], one of the most thrillingly instructive exhibitions about this painter, or painting in general, that you may ever see."
Deborah Barlow blogs about the "effort filled effortlessness of Matisse." She adds her thoughts to Sebastian Smee's recent profile of Matisse's Petit Interieur a la table de Marbre Ronde at the Worcester Art Museum.
Barlow writes that Matisse's painting "confronts the mystery that is at the core of [his] oeuvre. His signatory effortlessness was anything but effortless. That ease and flow was hard won." She concludes "...art making can be the way we possess the qualities we don't embody easily, to evoke moods, auras and existences that are vastly different from the ones we inhabit."
Edited by artist Brett Baker, Painters' Table highlights writing from the painting blogosphere as it is published and serves as a platform for exploring blogs that focus primarily on the subject of painting.