Thursday, October 21, 2010

Musings on Matisse and 1911 and Me

The Centurians, a program about the 100 most influential artworks of the 20th century is running on BBC 7. I just heard the one about Matisse's Red Studio (Atelier Rouge) and A.S. Byatt, the novelist, said it was the best example of a painting halfway between abstraction and realism.

It was painted in 1911, and although Les Demoiselles D'Avignon by Picasso is considered that iconic era painting (1907) this work is considered pivotal by many, it seems. Its influence was felt later on, in the forties, in the US.

Now, I love Matisse, but I don't remember thinking much of this one.

I have that Fish and Flowers one, and for years it was over my bed. I bought it when I was pregnant with my second, although I didn't yet know it. A friend suggested I bought it for its 'fertility' symbolism. (This print is in Harry Met Sally, in Sally's apartment.)

About 18 years later, I bought the book Dance to the End of Love, that combined Leonard Cohen's lyrics with Matisse images. I had this fantasy that my husband saw it in the store and thought "Gee, that would be perfect for my wife " for our 20th anniversary." But the truth is, a thousand of these books could have fallen on his head and he wouldn't have thought to buy it for me.

And I also purchased a little Matisse, that I put on my Edwardian era bookshelf. I'm not sure if the piece of furniture belonged to the Nicholsons or some other relation of my husband's.
Anway, there's but one Matisse in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. When I go to Paris in the spring I will surely see more of his work. MY Matisse with Ikea tulips and Woolworth's vase from my childhood home.

The Atelier Rouge is in the MOM in New York. And I'm going there in November, but to see a play. I don't think I have time to go to the MOM. Too bad.

The BBC panel said the nuances in the picture can't be captured in prints.