Matisse and Picasso – How a rivalry changed modern art – Flux Magazine
My guess is that the Tate's Matisse Picasso (scheduled to transfer - like the The first and most radical collection of Matisse's paintings, bought. Matisse Picasso dispels the illusion of the great artist as self-invented, Protean giant. Yet their relationship is mostly seen as an occasion for the parlour game of deciding . We hope to pass our goal by early January With a blockbuster show about the Matisse-Picasso relationship opening at New York's MOMA, the author explores how each man's genius lit.
Perhaps what I really resisted was what I saw as Matisse's avoidance of psychological complication in his art, the supremacy of what he called the decorative.
Picasso gave us Cubism, which in turn led to the ready-made and full-on abstraction both of which he rejected ; he gave us Guernica or as he would have had it, Franco and the Germans gave us the bombing ; he gave us sexual monsters, and himself as a grinning, raddled skull.
Matisse gave us goldfish, piano lessons, a comfortable armchair for the tired businessman.
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The unworthy comparison persists. It is worth remembering that one object Matisse kept beside him into his old age was a dark and troubled Picasso portrait of Dora Maar, painted in wartime Paris. And how Matisse coveted a strangulated, bitter landscape Picasso lent him during the Occupation.
He sent Picasso a box of oranges once a year. Picasso never ate them, but had them on display - as Matisse's oranges, only to be looked at. He also kept Matisse's paintings about him, prominently hung among his own. Picasso could never be regarded as a blameless soul, even by his fondest admirers.
He has been at least as much studied as his art, and in almost every respect the man has been found wanting, especially of loyalty. His personal infidelities and his roving, acquisitive eye are of a piece with his attitude towards art and other artists.
Everything, as well as everyone, is there to be used - including other people's art, and other men's mistresses. Matisse called Picasso a bandit, and Picasso enjoyed the sobriquet. Yet to Matisse - northern, chilly, fastidious, reserved - Picasso did in his way remain a true, if somewhat ambivalent friend. And if we see Picasso taking from Matisse's art, Matisse also took from Picasso. Such was this symbiotic relationship, with its to-and-fro of ideas, forms, pictorial innovations.
Their differences in personality and outlook were great, but just as great were their affinities. What they shared, perhaps most of all, was their understanding of each other, their common road. Nearly all Picasso's art can be read as a diary of his affections and private preoccupations.
Matisse's art, on the other hand, kept the artist's private life at bay. We do not find the man's lovers passing through the paintings. In a Matisse, fruit stayed fruit, oysters oysters. Whatever else we may want them to be - the orange as breast, the oyster as sexual symbol - Matisse insisted that they only constituted the motif.
In fact, the fruit and flowers, the model on the bed- all are disconcertingly less, not more, than they seem. Walking into a Matisse on the lookout for hanky-panky, one encounters instead one of those dreadful misunderstandings of French farce, where everything has an implausible but entirely innocent explanation. We find no personal jealousy erupting in a Matisse, except perhaps in regard to his relationship with Picasso.
Perhaps jealousy was something else they shared. Understanding one another, borrowing from one another, they attempted to outdo each other, to trump the other's innovations, both on canvas and in sculpture. Their dialogue may not always have been conscious, nor was it exclusive.
Matisse Picasso, Tate Modern | Global | The Guardian
Artists always borrow; they are always on the lookout for a solution to a problem, or a twist in someone else's art they can make use of themselves. This is legitimate, and is part of art's complicated dialogue with itself. Elizabeth Cowling and John Golding, the curators of Tate Modern's exhibition, have made a good job of following the artistic relationship between Matisse and Picasso.
They, and a platoon of fellow scholars, add much to Yves-Alain Bois's own recent close reading of the relationship for an exhibition at the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas. But there is no such thing as a definitive account, any more than a definitive exhibition. No institution can always get what it wants, and some works, such as Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, Picasso's time-bomb and arguably the single most important painting of the 20th century, are too fragile to travel.
Matisse's response can best be seen in one of his most beautiful paintings, Portrait of Madame Matisse made inin which her face appears masklike. Picasso was sick that summer and Matisse visited him often. In Picasso's studio, he saw a white African mask hanging near the portrait of Marguerite he had given Picasso. Of Madame Matisse's portrait, the poet Guillaume Apollinaire said Matisse had reinvented voluptuousness in painting. Abstract as it is, with its masklike face and flattened sense of space, the serene portrait contrasts strikingly, despite certain similarities in format and subject, with Picasso's Portrait of a Young Girl, done the following year.
In this painting, Picasso's Cubist approach undermines the serenity of the pose.
Matisse v Picasso: the final showdown
But even in opposition, as in these two portraits, the dialogue between the two artists was clear. Sometimes, however, it was more subtle. One painter might look far into the other's past, taking up where he had long ago left off.
There are many examples of such cross-pollination, but one of the most striking is Picasso's monumental The Three Dancers. It was done in when he was working on the sets for the great Diaghilev's Ballets Russes.
Matisse had done the sets and costumes for a Diaghilev ballet a few years before, which irked Picasso when he heard about it. A balcony with a big red flowerpot falling all over it!
The visual analogies are obvious: Picasso's painting, however, was utterly savage, while Matisse's retained some sense of grace. At the time, Picasso's marriage to Olga, an ex-ballerina, was failing, and he'd just gotten news of an old friend's death.
The Three Dancers, like the Demoiselles, was a kind of exorcism. By the s, the two painters had drifted apart. Matisse was ensconced in a hotel in Nice painting luxurious odalisques and drawing portraits of women in plumed hats.
Matisse and Picasso – How a rivalry changed modern art
But even then they kept an eye on each other. In the late s Picasso fell in love with Marie-Therese Walter, a young woman almost Grecian in her grace. To paint her, Picasso found himself borrowing the more flowing lines, rounded figures and vivid colors of Matisse. For his part, Matisse continued to distill the luminosity of Nice in his paintings. It's like a paradise you have no right to analyze, but you are a painter, for God's sake!
Nice is so beautiful! Alight so soft and tender, despite its brilliance. There were moments when Picasso's portraits and Matisse's seemed painted with the same brush, if not the same hand. Picasso looked after Matisse's paintings, stored in a bank vault. Matisse, in ill health, defended Picasso against his critics.
He is living in Paris quietly, has no wish to sell, asks for nothing. At the war's end ina major show of their work was held at the Victoria and AlbertMuseum in London. As he prepared for this exhibition, Matisse wrote in a notebook: As I'm expecting to see him tomorrow, my mind is at work. I'm doing this propaganda show in London with him. I can imagine the room with my pictures on one side, and his on the other. It's as if I were going to cohabit with an epileptic. His long struggle to purify form, to make figures beautiful by making them simpler, to show essence and erase detail, led him back to the child's art of paper cutouts.
Some of these were huge, others small enough for him to manage from bed. When a Dominican priest invited him in to design a chapel in the town of Vence, he prepared some of the images for the stained-glass windows and wall decorations by cutting out paper. Picasso, too, took up a pair of shears. He made a series of sculptures that look like paper cutouts, though they are of sheet metal.
And his paintings seemed to take on a Matissean simplicity of form, even a decorative exuberance. In retrospect, one should have seen this coming. Some of their earlier paintings, like Matisse's portrait of Marguerite, had a paper cutout look.
Matisse versus Picasso | Milwaukee Art Museum Blog
And Picasso's collaborations with Braque involved cutting and pasting paper in Cubist collages. There were even earlier hints. Matisse always drew on the weaving traditions of his birthplace, using textile patterns to subvert perspective. Picasso had learned the same trick from his father, who used cut-out paper to construct his own paintings. By the s, they had veered in different directions.
Pablo Picasso concentrated on Minotaurs and neoclassical figures from his Parisian studio, whilst Henri Matisse, now based around Nice, painted a series of graceful Odilisques, the exotic concubines he had discovered lounging in Moroccan harems on a trip to the country a few years before.
In his twilight years, felled by ill health and reduced to working from bed or his wheelchair, Matisse managed to invent a radical new form of modernism — paper cut outs. He will put it all to good use in time. Picasso is not straightforward. Everyone has known that the last 40 years. Matisse died inleaving Picasso without his lifelong friend and rival. The impact that Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso had on each other was inexorable.
To praise one is to thank the other. Both disrupted existing parameters of art and found new ways to innovatively and evocatively depict the layers of emotion and sensuality inherent in human psyche and experience.