Tuesday, January 23, 2007

SOME INTERESTING MATISSE

This is not going to be a popular post. Most of the people who come here are cartoonists and cartoonists are indifferent to Matisse. Maybe it's because his love of pattern seems effeminate, maybe it's because line artists are instictively hostile to colorists. I don't know, maybe a commenter can explain it.
Anyway, I have a real treat for the small handfull of Matisse enthusiasts here. Here (above) is the original cloth that inspired several of his later paintings, including the blue and green painting above (topmost). It's a chance to compare the inspiration with the final product.
The blue and green painting is shocking. The colors seem to burn off of the canvas. I'm amazed that Matisse was able to look at the cloth and derive the ideal of pure, vibrant color from it. Of course to get across the idea of pure color he had to use mixed, textured color. This doesn't suprise me because psychologically intense color is almost always textured. That's why a colorist like Matisse was bound to be attracted to fabric. Hold up a red card then hold up
a piece of cloth colored with the same red. The cloth always seems redder. It may not really be redder but our brains are wired to perceive it that way.
I think we get misled about how color and texture work because we look at the mid-day sky and the sky seems brilliant even though it's only a light, graded blue and seems to have no texture at all. That's because the sky is backlit in a sense. It's all about the difference between additive and subtractive color. A pigment of sky blue (one that really is the same blue as the sky) straight out of the tube won't appear bright unless it's textured.
I'm always surprised that liberated color appears so agressive and so...well, evil and alien. The energy in color is usually locked up and hidden under a matrix of other colors and distractions. When released through texture and contrast it goes wild and seems to attack the viewer. Don't you feel that when you look at the blue painting above? If I were a colorist I might find myself talking to the color as it develops because it definitely seems to have an agenda opposed to my own.
The real excitement in seeing the cloth pattern is in the realization that the alien blue Matisse coaxed out of it was there all along. It makes you see other common objects in a different light.

Just for the heck of it I think I'll throw in a couple of other Matisse-related pictures. Here's an Egyptian tapestry that appears in a couple of his pictures. The wreath seems to spin and inject color into the field around it. I wish I could see the original.





22 comments:

Benjamin De Schrijver said...

I don't care if I'm the only one... I love this post. What you're seeing in his work, what he observed, is what everyone interested in coloring should study, even if they don't like his body of work.

Jay said...

Matisse is great. I've got a print of this Matisse on my wall at work...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pcqsuze/74882065/

And you'll probably enjoy this also from Paul Pope's excellent blog...

http://pulphope.blogspot.com/2007/01/henri-matisse-and-mr-clifford.html

Great work Uncle Eddie!

Charlie J. said...

These would make great cartoon backgrounds!

Anonymous said...

the people here dont like matisse because they grossly misinterpret/blindly follow everything john k says. Since John rightly doesnt care for cal arts or banal "modern art" the army of zealots that read this as "all fine art equals bad" even though John probably has a great appreciation for real fine artists like matisse van goh and picasso.

Anonymous said...

Nice post!


On what do you cnclude that cartoonists don't dig Matisse?! Everyone I know loves his stuff. Me too.

Max Ward said...

I think the people who visit this blog are actually pretty well rounded!

Stephen Worth said...

I fail to see the connection between Cats Don't Dance and Matisse or Cal Arts style and the post impressionists.

Nice try though, anon.

See ya
Steve

Anonymous said...

Scroll the wreath painting up and down with your mouse and the illusion that the wreath is spinning is enhanced.

Cheers,
Reg Kehoe

Kali Fontecchio said...

I almost want to like him the way you write about him, but then again....nope!

katzenjammer studios said...

Intense color (when used in the right context) is powerful. Unfortunately, I think Matisse has little else to say (to myself, anyway). There's something in the way that Van Gogh can use all intense colors, but they sit together correctly that's really appealing to me. I think that's what modern cartoon executives want to accomplish. Unfortunately, a lot of colorists don't have the proper sense to appease that want.

Ape Lad said...

I like Matisse and I really appreciate these insights. Thanks Eddie.
Also, Matisse is particularly fun to draw.

will said...

You know, I had never thought about the interface of line artists to colour artists, but...yeah, actually, that makes sense, I Have always been really skeptical & picky with straight-up painters.

Killer entry.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Jay: Nice picture and Hope's blog did indeed contain an interesting letter from Matisse. Thanks!

Ape: Nice drawing!

Everybody (well, almost everybody): Thanks for the kind words. I don't think I did a good job of explaining why I like that blue and green picture but maybe that's what good art does, it provokes people to try to articulate subtle thoughts and the attempt is beneficial even when we don't succeed.

Anonymous said...

Seems like everytime I have seen a work by Matisse in person, there is some blurb about how revolting he was considered by many in his own time, which usually, makes sense in the context of the show, museum installation, whatever; but doesn't stay with me once I leave, because I like the guy. I see why he shocked a few people, and even think the opinions of those who disliked him held some weight, but those opinions don't stick.

Oddly, the reasons I might like Matisse don't necessarily stick in my memory either.

Lee-Roy said...

tried commenting on this yesterday, but blogger seemed to have bugs. anyway, i don't get what's not to like about matisse. i'd say anyone with their panties all in a bunch too much to appreciate his work is probably missing out on a lot of other things in life that could bring them enjoyment.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Reg: Holy Cow! You're right! It does spin!

Gabriel said...

i don't care about matisse.
Actually i dislike him almost as much as cezanne, but what annoyed me about your post was that line about patterns! Patterns are so cool, there's nothing effeminate about them, i love wallpaper, arabesques and MC Escher!

Anonymous said...

I did two years art school so I know a bit about Matisse and many other of the French artisits, but I also love cartoons.
I just love art in all it's phases.
You're on my favourites.

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