‘Matisse: In Search of True Painting’: Examines the artist’s quest
By Dan Bischoff
Art historian Kenneth Clark once said that the definition of a classical artist was someone who returned again and again to the same theme, seeking its perfect expression. An artist whose every work was original, inspired, unique, was by definition a romantic. And by that standard, the painter we see in “Matisse: In Search of True Painting,” a show of 49 pictures that just opened at the Metropolitan Museum, is as classic as Praxiteles.
Because what “In Search of True Painting” is really about is the way Henri Matisse (1869-1954) throughout his long, long career worked in series. There are at least a score or so included: The full scale charcoal and two painted versions of “Le Luxe” (1907-8, a miniseries that is the original core inspiration of this exhibition); two “Interiors” with a Fez vase, one in “Red and Blue” and the other in “Venetian Red” (1946); three “Large Cliff” paintings showing either “Two Rays,” “Eel” or “Fish” in the foreground (1920); three “Portraits of Laurette” (1916), the dark-eyed professional model from Italy who would smoke cigarettes nude at the window of Matisse’s studio in Paris, indifferent to the shocked gendarmes in the street — we could go on and on.
What we are encouraged to see on the walls of the Met is the way these series moved into Matisse’s life and reordered it, occupying his thoughts and skills for months, sometimes years. (They could have surprising effects — Matisse’s son, for example, fell deeply in love with Laurette, who came from the nest of Italian refugees waiting out World War I in Montmartre, penniless, more than a little desperate, and keeping body and soul together by offering to pose nude for the city’s artists. Of such situations are boys’ dreams made.)
Even when we only have one painting, like the “The Dream” (1940), the Met has surrounded it with some 15 photos commissioned by Matisse that show the various states of the picture as it developed, almost as if it were a print shown in stages of artist’s proof. Matisse himself had the painting shown this way, at the Galerie Maeght in Paris, in 1945.
The obvious analogy is to “Regarding Warhol,” effectively just around the corner from “Matisse,” with its many photo-based series, even including strips of mugshots taken in a photo booth (still up through the end of this month). Met Director Tom Campbell made a point of telling critics at his luncheon last week that, no matter how much they hated “Regarding Warhol,” the show was a phenomenal success, drawing 750,000 visitors so far, sometimes as many as 7,000 a day; linking “In Search of True Painting” to such a hit can’t be bad for a traditional painting show.
Organized by modern and contemporary curator Rebecca Rabinow, “In Search of True Painting” definitely emphasizes Matisse’s “search,” which we quickly understand to be more involved than the typical one on Google. It’s almost as if the artist were a translating device, moving his initial inspiration in color harmony, shape, and subject into inevitably more simplified and geometrical versions. And following his mind through these paintings definitely revives that original joy in viewing Matisse — the sudden luxury of his arabesques, the hard geometries that underlie every picture, and most of all the colors, exquisitely balanced between sweet and sour.
If you think Matisse is so famous you can no longer see his work, this is the show for you. Your mind will fall effortlessly into the Modernizing gaze; you’ll start to make Matisses out of everything you see around you once you leave. Which really is a pretty good way to tell whether an exhibition of paintings is ringing your chimes.
“In Search of True Painting” is organized chronologically, and stocked with famous masterpieces, but it never seems dutiful or scholarly. Everyone has their favorites, no doubt, but the conjunction of “Interior with Goldfish” (from the Pompidou Center) and “Goldfish and Palette” (from the Museum of Modern Art, both 1914) has to be a high point. And not just because of the wonderful ultramarines, gray-blues and sudden red-gold highlights. The way the colors and shapes, particularly the wrought iron rails outside the studio window, become patterns in a far more abstract picture is simply delightful. Matisse, as always, makes painting look so easy.
It isn’t, of course — though thinking it must be is a common effect of true classicism. Painting’s not like sitting in a photo booth. But these series of series almost make you think you painted them, because they let you see so many steps along the way. And that is very easy on the soul.
Patrick Maisey’s home is a true labour of love. He built it himself, using locally sourced materials, in a prime spot at the end of a peninsula in the Tasman district that has been in his family for generations.
Not surprisingly, the place means an enormous amount to Maisey, his partner Christine Boswijk and their family. The house has grown gradually over time as work commitments and the mood allowed.
Today it’s a substantial build, able to house the blended family of 14 when they are all together at Christmas.
Design features include wrought iron around the balcony and doors opening to verandas and pockets of garden.
“We will start by picking our own homegrown cherries with the grandchildren on Christmas Eve and always gather around the long table to eat on Christmas Day,” says Christine Boswijk.
There are three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a massive living dining space and huge farmhouse kitchen. An adjacent structure of similar proportions allows the artist pair to pursue their individual passions – Christine in ceramics and sculpture and Patrick in the restoration of old cars.
The house has been developed in three stages including a second level with master bedroom and en suite.
“It’s perfect for Patrick,” says Boswijk. “He can get out of bed, look through the telescope and check on his boat moored at Mapua and then go to his workshop and the classic cars.”
While the house design has been Maisey’s preserve (with help from a draughtsman friend and then Nelson architect John Palmer), Boswijk had input too. She is quick to point out her walk- in wardrobe and dressing area in the angle of the roof pitch.
There’s plenty of quirky and distinctive detail to the property. A daughter’s former partner crafted steel porthole window frames and old wharf supports, hand positioned by Patrick and helpers using a block and tackle, form the main structure of the build. The clay exterior wall in the living area, added seven years ago, has a huge open fire and French doors in the new addition have created indoor-outdoor flow to the pond, water feature and view over the estuary.
“We have two planes- the vertical of the mountains and the horizontal of the sea. We have unbelievable light and life in this environment,” Boswijk says.
The house is about functionality – everything has to have a purpose and a use, so it doesn’t become a relic of the past. The house and surrounds continue to develop, a canvas for two artists.
Vintage Vocals stage ‘sing-along’ with Doc at Hill Village
by Sally Litchfield
Inspired by his ability to draw musical pitches out of his anvil, Vintage Vocals, a women’s trio out of North Georgia, staged an impromptu ‘sing-along’ with Doc Cudd, master iron craftsman at Biltmore Estate’s Antler Hill Village on Nov. 10, opening day of the Estate’s holiday season. When he’s not working on projects in the Estate, Doc can be found in the Barn, heating and pounding out artful wrought iron objects for visitors to the village, teaching about his craft and playing his unlikely instrument.
Vintage Vocals, consisting of Philippa Anderson, Deb Gerace and Mary Slider have performed at Biltmore many times in the past. On Nov. 10, the group performed for Veterans Day weekend in Cordele, aboard the SAM Shortline Excursion Train for the Providence, Presidents and Patriots Special Run. For details, check with www.samshortline.com.
The unique trio Vintage Vocals performs eclectic vocal music for all occasions and all audiences. The ladies first performed at Christ Episcopal Church in Kennesaw where they all attend.
Dancing with the Stars alum Corky Ballas opens dance studio in Northwest San Antonio
by Leslie Mouton
Wrought iron railings line the balconies of colorful apartments. There are upscale shops, cafe dining and even a rail line that runs through the city.
But within this city is another city, and it’s dedicated to dance. iDanceCity is the first of its kind, high-tech dance studio, run by world champion dancer and instructor on Dancing With The Stars, Corky Ballas.
This unique dance studio has a giant and elegant, wooden ballroom floor. On each side of the ballroom, are several flat screen monitors hanging from the ceiling.
The screens are programmed with all levels of learning, so students can perfect their Paso Doble at their own pace.
“Whatever level you feel comfortable at, you get in front of those monitors, and live teachers walk up and down and dance with you to make sure you are progressing,” Ballas said.
Corky says what’s unique and wonderful about iDanceCity, is it works for dancers of all levels.
You can watch the monitors and mimic the moves until you master them. You can also practice with the instructors or even the other students.
“I also teach ballet body workouts and do personal training,” said Lauren Quiroz, one of the hired instructors. There is also a dance instructor for young kids.
Rather than pay for lessons to learn an individual dance, this place is set up like a gym membership.
Students pay a monthly fee of $50 and get unlimited access to all lessons. “If you want to take every class, it would come out to about 80 cents a class. That’s less than a cup of coffee” Corky said.
Ballas decided to open the studio in San Antonio because he says he sees the potential for huge success in this city.
A dancing craze has swept the country, and he hopes iDanceCity will get more people off the couch and ready to Rumba!
Nature and industry collide in colour
The 62-year-old amateur photographer, from Burbage, captured the image from the footpath by the Grand Union Canal, near the King Power Stadium.
It is the latest entry in our Old and New photography contest.
Alan, who is retired, said: “I’d just bought a new Nikon 5100 and went for a walk early one Sunday morning to try it out when few people were around.
“I came across this scene thought it would make a great picture.”
The photo, taken six months ago, is actually three photographs, taken with different exposures, merged into one.
“It has the effect of making the foreground and background equally clear, seeing the scene as your eye would,” said Alan.
“I thought the contrast of nature and industry, decline and progress, all captured in the frame, worked.”
The closing date for entries is November 18, with £100 of Jessops vouchers up for grabs for the winner.