Sunday, 25 May 2014

The Sheaf

For sheer, glorious exuberance and joie de vivre ...

Matisse's paper cut-outs are still dancing in my head. Literally dancing, because they are so much more alive than when you see them in reproductions. What never crossed my mind was that when Matisse's studio was papered from floor to ceiling with seaweedy fronds like this pinned to the wall with tin tacks or ordinary dressmaking pins ...

Well, of course they would dance and flutter in the breeze.

Snow Flowers, 1951

To think that these were the works of his old age after surgery for cancer left him unable to stand and stopped him from painting.

Somehow, seeing the pinmarks lets you into Matisse's mind ... although his studio assistants physically moved the paper shapes around untilhe was satisfied.

I spent a long time reading the flowing handwritten text to his book of circus prints. Do I believe in God? Yes, when I work, when I'm submissive and modest, I feel myself helped by someone who makes me do things that surpass myself. However, I don't feel any gratitude towards him for it is as if I found myself in front of a conjuror whose tricks I can't penetrate. So I find myself  frustrated from profiting from the experience that ought to be the reward of my efforts. I am ungrateful without remorse. 

(My translation, so I hope I've captured the gist of it.)

His writing, he said, was purely decorative, accompanying his colours like asters in a bouquet of more important flowers.

Ivy in Flower, 1953

This was the maquette for the stained glass window of a mausoleum ... what a way to go!

If you're feeling deterred by the thought of queuing and crowds, it was busy - but nothing like as bad as I expected. Lucille recommends turning up at 10 am and hurrying through to have a few minutes alone at the end of the exhibition. I'm incapable of getting anywhere early, but I found it interesting taking it chronologically and seeing how Matisse's panache with the scissors developed over time. But whatever you do, don't miss it.
And do take a look at the lovely pictures here.


Gina said...

We were there today and although busy it was not as bad as all that. I was totally blown away by the sheer scale, colour and joy of it all. Stunning!

mary said...

I was so impressed that he could be old, ill and yet so exuberant, Gina. I want to go back again.

Non Morris said...

Hi it's Non Morris here, author of blog. Thanks so much for suggesting that your readers take a look at my post on Matisse and the use of colour in the garden.
I post twice a month and write about plants and gardens and often about art, design, architecture too.

I am so glad I have discovered your blog - almost all my favourite things under one roof! I greatly enjoyed your honest and exuberant post on Matisse.

Until the next time!

Best wishes Non

mary said...

Thanks, Non. I love the garden at Petersham House (and the cake!) so I was interested to see how you linked it to Matisse. Did you see the bit in the exhibition when he's talking about taking a walk through a garden and picking a bunch of flowers, then spoils it all by putting them in a vase?