Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Drawing the line

Nice review in last week's New Yorker (I'm still catching up on my mail) of Hilary Spurling's book on Matisse that I'd blogged about earlier.

"Picasso and Matisse are poles apart aesthetically. Matisse told his students, "One must always search for the desire of the line, where it wishes to enter, where to die away." Picasso's line has no desire; it is sheer will. Form builds in Picasso, flows in Matisse. Picasso uses colour. Colours enter the world through Matisse like harmonies through Mozart."

Superbly put.

(Paintings: On the left, Matisse The Piano Lesson; on the right, Picasso Le Piano).


ozymandiaz said...

It seems to me that their purpose for/of art we likewise differentiated.

Anonymous said...

Very nicely put, esp about Picasso's line being sheer will. Think that goes back to a discussion of whether art is art only if the observer sees it as such - Picasso's cubist work was probably more true to the expression he was seeking (sheer will), but the blue period for instance connects so much more to the observer .. that's how I see it - I might think of his cubist work as 'interesting', but will never be moved by it ... because he painted it for himself, and not for anyone else. Matisse clearly had a very different idea of form and line ... guess his 'paper-cutting' type paintings (Ice dancers, blue nude, even Icarus) are clear evidence of the contrast.

Falstaff said...

MR: I see what you're saying, but I think it's dangerous to generalise. All this "blue period for instance connects to much more to the observer" stuff - when what you really mean is just that you like the blue period more and aren't moved by the cubist work. I see no reason why you couldn't be moved to tears by the great cubist paintings and think of the blue period as fairly blah, and I suspect you'll find people like that. On the whole I'm for the Blue Period over the cubists as well, but I suspect you'll find that there are people out there who won't agree with you. And given a choice between Matisse's paper cutting paintings and the work of, say, Duchamp, I'd pick the latter - even though you could argue that that's much closer to Picasso's cubism in many ways.

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