Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Line and Arabesque

The Piano Lesson, 1916
Henri Matisse
Oil on canvas, 8' 1/2" x 6' 11 3/4" (245.1 x 212.7 cm). Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund. © 2008 Succession H. Matisse, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Museum of Modern Art, Find it Here.

One of my favorite paintings, one which I went looking for when I was at MoMA this past spring but alas it had been removed. This always makes me a little sad but then I am happy that other works are getting their chance to be loved and discovered as well. Museums have thousands of works in storage, many of which rarely if ever see the light of the upper floors, rotation of permanent collections is incredibly important to sustaining the excitement of art, even if you must sometimes miss your beloved.

I didn't start out as a Matisse fan but over the years the combination of figure and line, flat perspective, Cubism and Fauvism, color and grayscale draw me in more. In this work Matisse is combining both his own physical world with that of his art, from his son Pierre and what appears to be his female teacher but is an excerpt from another painting and his own bronze figure which graces his living room (see excerpt from MoMA publication) Depth does not draw a line between the view through the window to the outside, but an actual line delineates this perspective along with the arabesque curves of the iron balcony, echoing the music stand.

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