My sincere apologies to anyone who found my last post offensive.
My post was not offensive, nor was it subversive. However, this new event invites serious reflection on a number of issues. Among these, the numerous attacks on the President of the United States. These point to behaviour that cannot be considered reasonable and acceptable. There are rules of conduct that preclude harassment.
I hope sincerely President Obama did not abuse the power vested in him. I doubt that he has. He is the Commander-in-Chief of the United States’ military, but he is not belligerent.
My post entitled “Suing President Obama” contained a list of related articles. This list disappeared. My computer is no longer stable. It sometimes erases part of what I have written. I think I need a birthday.
“Suite bergamasque, four-movement suite for piano by French composer Claude Debussy, begun in 1890, when the composer was a student, and revised and published in 1905. Its most readily recognizable segment is the third movement, the ever-popular Clair de lune (“Moonlight”).
The work’s title derives from Bergamo, a city with ancient origins that is located in the foothills of the Italian Alps. It is traditionally considered the home of Harlequin, a standard figure of thecommedia dell’arte. The first movement, Prélude, has open and flowing phrases with much use of legato phrases. The second movement, Menuet, and the fourth movement, Passepied, are quick and light-footed, more staccato in mood than the first. The gentle and familiar Clair de lune in its original context provides an elegant contrast to the sprightly second and fourth movements.”
I had to undergo surgery this week. Everything went very well, but I have not been able to write since the operation. I hope to return to my normal activities as soon as possible.
Farm at Montgeroult
Here are a few paintings by Paul Cézanne (1839–1906). I tend to associate Cézanne with apples or other fruit. Cézanne painted lovely still lifes. In fact, some of his still lifes feature skulls. Your may remember that during the 17th century, the Dutch Golden Age, still lifes were called Vanitas and often showed a skull, an element depicting the brevity of life (See Pieter Claesz, Wikipedia.)
By and large, an artist’s main frame of reference is art itself, but whether or not Cézanne featured skulls intending to underline the brevity of life would be difficult to ascertain. As a post-impressionist, however, he did attempt to catch the brief moment when the light touches an object, suddenly transforming it. That evanescent moment also points to the brevity of life.
Cézanne also painted landscapes, interesting displays of houses, portraits, people playing cards, nudes, groups of nudes, and works, such as “Curtains,” that constitute a lovely example of intimisme,[i] a private space. Intimisme is often associated with impressionism as an impression is by definition a personal and fleeting view.
As an academic painter, Matisse earned recognition from the start. In 1896, the year he painted his Maid, he was elected an associate member of the Salon – academic – society. Moreover, his Woman Reading (1894), shown in the gallery below, was purchased by the government. However, Matisse’s artistic orientation broadened when he visited Australian artist John Peter Russell who had settled with his wife at Belle-Île, off the coast of Brittany. Russell knew Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet, which could explain the Fauvist period of Matisse’s life. Fauvism is characterized by the use of vivid colours. But, generally speaking, Matisse was an eclectic modernist. His training as an academic painter served him well, as did the year he spent in England studying the works of J. M. W. Turner. Matisse’s paintings also reflect the influence of Japanese and Islāmic art but, above all, they stem from an inner and very personal vision. Artists are influenced by what they are seeking.
Fauvism: Le Salon d’automne, 1905
However, Matisse is linked with an art movement called Fauvism. Following his trip to Belle-Île, Matisse turned to vibrant colours. In 1905, he showed Woman with a Hat at the Salon d’Automne. The Salon d’Automne is an annual art exhibition held in Paris France since 1903. Woman with a Hat, a portrait of his wife Amélie,brought criticism to Matisse. After visiting the Salon d’Automne “Paris critic Louis Vauxcelles called the group les fauves (“the wild beasts”), and thus Fauvism, the first of the important “isms” in 20th-century painting, was born. Almost immediately Matisse became its acknowledged leader.”[i] Other “fauvistes” are André Derain, its co-founder, and Maurice de Vlaminck.
Woman with a Hat, 1905
By 1905, “Matisse’s studies led him to reject traditional renderings of three-dimensional space and to seek instead a new picture space defined by movement of colour. He exhibited his famous Woman with the Hat (1905) at the 1905 exhibition. In this painting, brisk strokes of colour—blues, greens, and reds—form an energetic, expressive view of the woman. The crude paint application, which left areas of raw canvas exposed, was appalling to viewers at the time.”[ii] Matters were remedied when Gertrude Stein and brother Leo bought the painting which is now the property of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
The foremost patron and promoter of Henri Matisse’s art was Sarah Stein, Michael Stein’s wife. As for Gertrude Stein (February 3, 1874 – July 27, 1946) and Alice B. Toklas (April 30, 1877 – March 7, 1967), they had a salon, 27, rue de Fleurus, to which artists and art collectors flocked on an appointed day, Saturday I believe. In 1928, when he was composing An American in Paris,George Gershwin (September 26, 1898 – July 11, 1937) noted that “[his] purpose here [was] to portray the impression of an American visitor in Paris as he strolls about the city and listens to various street noises and absorbs the French atmosphere.” (See An American in Paris, Wikipedia.) In the 1920s, Gershwin had been a student of famed pianist, composer and teacher Nadia Boulanger (16 September 1887 – 22 October 1979).
Americans in Paris: Gertrude Stein & brothers
At that time in the history of art, the end of the 19th century and early 20th century, the beau monde of the United States, Hemingway and others, lived in Paris, some, on an almost permanent basis, others, as frequent visitors. The Cone (Kahn – Guggenheimer) sisters, Claribel and Etta, visited Paris at every chance and were generous patrons and collectors of modern art. Ironically, the success of modernist artists in France is inextricably linked to America’s Gilded Age and the years preceding the Great Depression. Matisse would soon break from Fauvism and adopt black as a colour. However, as of his Woman with a Hat and the support of Paris’ American colony, he had become an established artist, which gave him some freedom. He lived in relative affluence for the rest of his life, wintering in southern France and traveling.
Alice B. Toklas
On a sadder and somewhat extraneous note, among possessions Matisse’s first American patron, Gertrude Stein, bequeathed to Alice B. Toklas, were works of art, including Picassos. Because Gertrude and Alice were not married, the Stein family repossessed her collection when its value started to rise. According to Wikipedia, “Stein’s relatives took action to claim them, eventually removing them from Toklas’s home while she was away on vacation and placing them in a bank vault.”(SeeAlice B. Toklas, Wikipedia.) Alice was not compensated and died in poverty, which should not have been the case. However, she is buried next to Gertrude in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
Matisse’s Last Days
Beginning in 1941, Matisse was in poor health and confined to a bed or a wheelchair. He continued to paint sometimes using a stick to which a pencil or brush was attached. He was cared for “by a faithful Russian woman who had been one of his models in the early 1930s, he lived in a large studio in the Old Hôtel Regina at Cimiez, overlooking Nice.”[iii]
(Please click on the images to enlarge them.)
Branch of Lilacs, 1914
Crockery on Table, 1900
Woman Reading, 1896 (bought by the government)
Luxe 1, 1907
Photo credit: Google and Wikipaintings (Lilacs)
Not only has Philip Scott Johnson made the lovely video we saw on 3 April 2013, on Picasso, but he has made a series of videos, one of which is on Matisse. The music is Debussy‘s Arabesque No. 1 in E Major, performed by Peter Schmalfuss, piano.