2014年6月1日 星期日

Matisse, Diaghilev. Sergei Prokofiev,




Prokofiev's Harmonic Language

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

 http://www.wqxr.org/#!/story/prokofievs-harmonic-language/





Prokofiev as drawn by Henri Matisse for the premiere of Chout (1921)

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sergei_Prokofiev

Matisse the Master: A Life of Henri Matisse 1909-1954

books.google.com.tw/books?isbn=0141909749
Hilary Spurling - 2005 - ‎Art
Diaghilev turned up again in mid-April, coming over from the Ballets Russes' headquarters at Monte Carlo to persuade Matisse to draw Serge Prokofiev for the ...



hc是M迷
現在美國翻譯-名作家寫的這篇和相關聯結
當然不可錯過
 
 Matisse moved through the Fauvist style and created many of his best known works between 1906 and 1917 when he was an active amongst the artists gathered in Montparnasse. Matisse lived in Cimiez on the French Riviera, now a suburb of the city of Nice, from 1917 until his death in 1954.
 (1869-1954)

'Matisse the Master': The Colored Museum
Matisse: father & son; the story of Pierre Matisse, his father, Henri Matisse, his gallery in New …
J Russell - 2001 - New York; London: Harry N. Abrams
Cited by 2 - Web Search - Library Search
The Beauty of Henri Matisse
D CARRIER - The Journal of Aesthetic Education, 2004 - muse.jhu.edu
... John Elderfield, Pleasuring Painting: Matisse's Feminine Representations (London:
Thames and Hudson, 1995) and John Russell, Matisse: Father and Son (New York ...

Pierre 1900-1989   1911 12歲與姊Marguerite 訪科西嘉跳舞 1916年似乎比M高數公分

Rene Magritte
 
 
 
"The Painter's Family," 1911, by Henri Matisse."Colour, which for [Matisse] meant feeling, showed the way. He found signposts in the Islamic tradition encountered in Spain, and at the Munich exhibition. . . . Chief among the devices he borrowed for 'The Painter's Family' was the richly patterned surface decorated with stylised floral motifs . . . "
- Hilary Spurling
 
The Girl With Green Eyes," 1908, by Henri Matisse."'The Girl With Green Eyes' became a byword for grotesquerie when shown in Paris in the spring of 1910."
- Hilary Spurling. All quotes are from "Matisse the Master."
 
 
"Dance (II)," 1910, by Henri Matisse."Its bestial aspect was the first thing that struck Matisse's contemporaries about 'Dance.'"
 
Goldfish," 1912, by Henri Matisse.
"Goldfish" is "painted in exuberant hothouse colours - scarlet, emerald green, cyclamen pink and black - that give off an almost palpable powdery warmth and light."
- Hilary Spurling
"Bathers by a River," 1909-16, by Henri Matisse."Unsaleable virtually throughout Matisse's lifetime, 'Bathers by a River' was finally acquired the year before he died by the Art Institute of Chicago. Matisse told the institute's director at the time that he ranked it among the five pivotal paintings of his life."
"The Fall of Icarus," 1945, by Henri Matisse."The Fall of Icarus" "led directly to one of the twentieth century's most extraordinary printed books, the triumphant cut-paper inventions of 'Jazz' . . . "
- Hilary Spurling

 
 
 
 
By RICHARD HOWARD
Published: September 4, 2005
This concluding volume of the first biography of the greatest French painter of the 20th century, by Hilary Spurling (the ''Early Years, 1869-1908,'' were covered, or uncovered, in the first volume, ''The Unknown Matisse,'' published in this country seven years ago), is a continuing revelation of the demonic quest pursued by this apparently tame bourgeois artist to a triumphant and radical fulfillment. Matisse said of his ultimate works that even if he could have done as a boy what he was doing as an old man -- ''and it is what I dreamed of then'' -- he would not have dared.
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Baltimore Museum of Art, Cone Archives/From ''Matisse the Master''
Matisse in the Baltimore apartment of Etta Cone, December 1930; Etta and her sister, Claribel, had bought about two dozen of his works on their annual shopping sprees in Paris. More Photos >
MATISSE THE MASTER
A Life of Henri Matisse: The Conquest of Colour, 1909-1954.

By Hilary Spurling.
Illustrated. 512 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $40.
Multimedia

Spurling's enormous, careful study has certainly confirmed her fiercely partisan intent: she has settled scores, righted wrongs and revealed realms of experience unsuspected by those for whom Matisse, these days, is merely ''beloved'' (always the sign, as in the case of van Gogh, of a need for a closer look and more accurate accounting). I am certain, after following her intricate lead through Matisse's trials, errors and triumphs, that no artistic enterprise, and certainly no pictorial ambition, in the 20th century can escape being measured against what Matisse achieved.
(partisan (UNFAIR), partizan
adjective
strongly supporting a person, principle or political party, often without considering or judging the matter very carefully:
The audience was very partisan, and refused to listen to the her speech.
partisan politics
See also bipartisan.

partisanship , partizanship  Noun [U]
There was a certain partisanship about the way that votes were cast.)
The story through Volume 1: The family of weavers into which Henri Matisse was born on the eve of the Franco-Prussian war, and Bohain, a textile manufacturing town in northeastern France where he grew up, could scarcely be expected to produce an artist; nor during Matisse's early years did they appear to have done so. Poor health kept him from sitting for examinations at a nearby lycée and from performing military service; recovery from a physical collapse at 20 coincided with his mother's gift of a box of paints: ''The moment I held the box of colors in my hand I knew this was my life. I threw myself into it like a beast that plunges toward the thing it loves.''
Unsuccessful, nonetheless, at academic art studies while working as a lawyer's clerk, Matisse eventually managed to get to Paris, where the Académie Julian disappointed his hopes; taken on as an unofficial pupil by Gustave Moreau, he engaged in intensive self-education at the Louvre. When he was 24, he and his mistress, Camille Joblaud, had a child, Marguerite, who was to become her father's lifetime mainstay; and in 1898 Matisse married a young woman from higher provincial social circles, Amélie Parayre, a fervently loyal, patient and resourceful ''heroine,'' to whose memory Spurling dedicates this tremendous work. Apparently Spurling does not regard as a hint of disloyalty the separation of this couple, after decades of a marriage which, Matisse had warned his wife at the outset, would always be secondary to his artistic vocation. She treats Amélie's absence from Matisse's final years, when the ailing artist's life was managed by his last model, as another instance of wifely ''resourcefulness,'' although it is well known that the papers of their son, Pierre, who was a prominent art dealer in New York for many years, give a very different account of Amélie's conduct at the separation. Pierre, his brother, Jean, and Marguerite remained close to their father through every vicissitude, and Matisse, in his last invalid years, was devoted to his several grandchildren.
Matisse's discovery of Impressionism (Pissarro, Monet) coincided with that of the South (the French fishing town of Collioure on the Mediterranean, not far from the Spanish border, and, farther south, Seville), precipitating an explosion of color on his hitherto dim canvases. The lure of the sun was always tonic; repeatedly Matisse would head for Nice, Morocco, Tahiti after periods of great emotional exertion. During his first seven years of marriage the struggling artist managed to start his career with his wife's resolute collaboration as a frequent model, to buy a painting by Cézanne, and to exhibit work at the Salon des Independants. He also stoically weathered a financial scandal involving Amélie's parents (they were treated as scapegoats by the national press and Matisse's studio was raided by the police). Two years later, he had his first one-man show with Ambroise Vollard, and in 1905 exhibited his first Fauvist works at the Salon d'Automne.
Spurling reached the end of Volume 1 with a transcendent insight: his ''paintings of light and color . . . seemed at the time, both to their perpetrator and to his public, an assault that threatened to undermine civilization as they knew it. But Matisse was not simply discarding perspective, abolishing shadows, repudiating the academic distinction between line and color. He was attempting to overturn a way of seeing evolved and accepted by the Western world for centuries. . . . He was substituting for their illusion of objectivity a conscious subjectivity, a 20th-century art that would draw its vitality essentially from the painter's own visual and emotional responses.''
Volume 2, ''Matisse the Master,'' is the punctilious exploration of a Painter's Progress in terms of stoic resolve, an ecstatic sense of what Spurling calls ''the conquest of color,'' and of Matisse's failure to win a public in France, with wrenching consequences for someone enslaved to his vision, for his wife and children, and indeed for his reputation. Matisse was often harshly derided (though as often acknowledged as the leader of other Fauve painters like Vlaminck, Derain and Dufy), and it was not until 1910 that he gained the enthusiastic patronage of the Russian art collectors Ivan Morosov and Serge Shchukin. (''Soon your pictures won't ever be seen again except in Moscow,'' the wife of a painter friend wrote.) (
punctilious  
adjective FORMAL
very careful to behave correctly or to give attention to details:
He was always punctilious in his manners.)
But that same year Matisse had his first Paris retrospective and appeared in Roger Fry's first Post-Impressionist exhibit in London. Deeply impressed by a major exhibition of Islamic art (especially a hall containing 230 carpets) in Munich, he also visited the Alhambra in Granada, securing from that decorative splendor an essential element of all his future art. From this point on -- as Spurling relates with at once the widest scope and the narrowest focus -- Matisse's life story is a matter of his fanatical responsibility to his art and art making, an enterprise carefully scrutinized and eloquently analyzed by his biographer for its creative identity rather than for the pathos of personal relationships, though these are set forth and discussed (often for the first time) with great frankness and inveterate sympathy.
Matisse's quest for mastery was bedeviled by his consciousness of a late start and an obsessive lack of facility. For all his long-lasting friendships with other artists, famous and obscure, his days and nights were wholly absorbed by solitary labor at an intractable art. Playing the violin seemed a more intimate consolation for decades of abuse than the affections of his wife and children.
As Spurling tells it, even his relation to his many models, though humane and productive, was notably ''separate'': by 1927, after designing sets and costumes for Diaghilev's production of Stravinsky's ''Nightingale,'' he found in Henriette Darricarrère a principal model for the series of odalisque paintings based initially on Bakst's costumes for the ballet ''Schéhérazade,'' but he never became intimate with her, or with any of these often remarkable young women, not even with his final ''muse,'' Lydia Delectorskaya, the gifted Russian exile who replaced Amélie Matisse as the capable factotum of his existence from 1939 to his death. ''The popular image,'' as Spurling says, ''of the painter indulging himself in the fleshpots of Nice in wartime will not stand up to even cursory inspection.''
It is the testimony of artists like Signac, Maillol, Renoir, Gris, Bonnard and, of course, Picasso -- the wondering interlocutions of his peers -- that afford us the only productive image of the painter's intimate life, and the defining arguments for his ruling status in French art of the 20th century. Spurling is generous with these glimpses -- as she is with any moments that yield insights into his life in art. Thus: '' 'I'm going to try to isolate myself as if I were still absent,' '' Matisse announced on his first return to Paris since the official separation from his wife, ''rarely leaving his apartment except for visits to the cinema (his first color film, starring Danny Kaye, was a revelation).''
World War II ushered in an utter collapse of Matisse's life structures: his health, his marriage and the unknown fate of his pictures in Russia as well as in occupied France. An emergency colostomy performed on him at 71 left him a permanent invalid; in 1944, Mme. Matisse and their daughter were arrested by the Gestapo for Resistance activities. And, while they were later released, after the liberation Matisse discovered that Marguerite had survived interrogation and torture. Yet this was the period of his most spectacular and original triumphs: unable to wield brushes, the old, terribly sick painter devised brilliant paper cutout structures, starting in 1943 with the album ''Jazz.'' And just after the war the irreligious Matisse completed the only decorative commission ever offered him in France (there were already murals in the Barnes collection in Pennsylvania and in Shchukin's dining room in Moscow): the Chapel of the Rosary in Vence, for which he not only designed magnificent stained-glass windows and ceremonial vestments, but, through insistent discussions of how he wanted the light and color to work, in a sense dictated the architecture of the chapel itself, as the architect Michel Picard has observed. For another 10 years, virtually imprisoned in his hilltop hotel in Nice, he worked on in his last illness, still unconvinced of his place in art, sure only of his unremitting effort to achieve it, a place in the sun if there ever was one.
Spurling's enthusiastically detailed biography is a complete expression of the life of Matisse, and necessarily a splendid account of his art, though not a complete one. She rarely discusses his sculptures -- powerful, even tormented contributions to his vision -- and so deep is her concentration on his ''conquest of color,'' which subjugates all the claims of light and space to the self-generating demands of picture construction, that she almost never mentions Matisse's drawings, an entire library made over a lifetime which must serve a kind of dialectical function with the ''zones of expansion'' of chromatic bliss.
In terms of her chosen project she doesn't need to, for she is aware that Matisse has had great critics -- she offers admiring salutes to Alfred Barr and Pierre Schneider -- but that what he has not had is the accurate biography against which their claims and cautions must be measured. In the vast structure she has patiently assembled, she leads us through the astonishing and revolutionary late works, in which control and spontaneity are conjugated to such euphoric effect, to the old master's death in 1954 on an appropriate (and disturbing) note, citing Matisse's anxiety about the future as he showed catalogs of Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell to his visitor, Picasso: ''And in a generation or two, who among the painters will still carry a part of us in his heart, as we do Manet and Cézanne?''
In Spurling's two big volumes Matisse the man is revealed, and Matisse the artist is the man we come to know. ''After such knowledge'' there is not only ''forgiveness,'' as T. S. Eliot has sought, but a moving identification of and with this great creating nature.
Richard Howard's new book of poems, ''The Silent Treatment,'' will be published in October.
September 4, 2005

'Matisse the Master'

By HILARY SPURLING
1909: Paris, Cassis and Cavalière Returning from Berlin to Paris in January 1909, Henri Matisse got off the train partway to visit one of his few German supporters. He had just said good-bye to his majestic Harmony in Red, leaving it behind in a gallery in Berlin, where people said his latest paintings were senseless, shameless, infantile monstrosities or sick and dangerous messages from a madhouse. The French felt much the same. Harmony-the goal Matisse desired more passionately than any other-was the last thing his art conveyed to his contemporaries.
His host at Hagen, a few miles along the Ruhr from Essen, was the collector Karl Ernst Osthaus, who had already bought five works from Matisse and was about to commission a sixth. Osthaus insisted on showing off his latest acquisition, a mosaic design installed in a modern crematorium newly built on an industrial waste site. When they entered the building on a cold, grey, rainy Sunday afternoon they found an organ playing softly in the gloom and a coffin sinking into the ground in front of them. Tired, depressed and deeply shaken by what had happened in Berlin, Matisse lost his usual composure and let out a scream: "My God, a dead body!"
Osthaus explained that the body was a fake, part of a public relations exercise put on to counter the local workers' instinctive mistrust of cremation. But Matisse could not forget it, and often marvelled afterwards at the strange way Germans chose to amuse them on a Sunday afternoon. He had a second shock when he got home and received a parcel from Germany containing what looked like a gigantic funeral wreath. In fact, it was a wreath of bays posted by a young American admirer, Thomas Whittemore of Tufts College, to console Matisse for the failure of his Berlin show. Trying to lighten her husband's nervous tension, Mme Matisse tasted a bay leaf ("Think how good it will be in soup"), and said brightly that the wreath's red bow would make a hair ribbon for their fourteen-year-old daughter, Marguerite. "But I'm not dead yet," Matisse said grimly.
The work Matisse stopped off to see in Hagen was his own Nymph and Satyr. It was a relatively conventional set of three ceramic panels showing a stocky muscular nymph doing a stamping dance, then falling asleep and being tentatively approached by a hairy, hopeful satyr enclosed in a frieze of grapes and vine leaves. In January 1909, Matisse had recently completed an oil painting of the same subject (colour fig. 1). This time the satyr (who had been more of a tame faun on Osthaus's glazed tiles) started out with a little beard and pointy ears, but turned into something far more violent and raw. Matisse's final version is unequivocally human: a clumsy, graceless, lustful male advancing purposefully on a naked female huddled with her back turned at his feet. The man's pink, thinly painted flesh is outlined in red, the colour of arousal. So is the woman's, but every line of her expressive body-bent head, drooping breasts, collapsing limbs-suggests exhaustion, helpless weakness and enforced surrender.
This is the mood of Paul Cézanne's The Abduction (or The Rape), where another masterful naked man carries off another pale, limp, fleshy female. The fierce erotic charge in both paintings is reinforced by harsh colour and rough handling. In Matisse's case, the texture of the paint was itself an outrage. The choppy stabbing brushstrokes, the landscape's crude contours filled with flat scrubby green, the blurry patches round the man's head, crotch, left hand and right knee, all convey extreme disturbance. His picture, like Cézanne's, is both personal and symbolic. Both suggest an image spurting up from some deep, probably unconscious level of the imagination on a tide of bitterness and rage. Matisse's satyr looks as if he means to strangle his victim with his outsize red hands. Matisse himself said that this was how he always felt before he began a painting.
For him each painting was a rape. "Whose rape?" he asked, startling his questioner (perhaps also himself) with the brutal image that surfaced in his mind during an interview that took place more than three decades after he painted Nymph and Satyr: "A rape of myself, of a certain tenderness or weakening in face of a sympathetic object." He seems to have meant that he relied on his female models to arouse feelings that he could convert to fuel the work in hand. He confronted whatever underlay that process head on in Nymph and Satyr. The displaced emotion here is at least in part aesthetic. The last time Matisse put classical nymphs into a picture was in 1904 in Luxe, calme ET volupté, an uneasy experimental composition that led directly to the explosive canvases dismissed by most people the year after as the work of a wild beast, or Fauve. In the winter of 1908-9, Matisse was once again grappling with, and violating, the ancient canons of a debased classical tradition in a canvas that commits pictorial and depicts sexual rape.
This coarse, powerful, primitive painting was earmarked for the Russian collector Sergei Ivanovich Shchukin, a man in process of committing himself as unreservedly as Matisse to liberating painting from the academic tyranny of Beaux-Arts aesthetics. Shchukin was an inordinately successful textile manufacturer with a patchy education and no academic training. People dismissed him, in both Paris and Moscow, as gullible and uncouth, an ignorant boyar who made no attempt to cultivate the refinement that enabled other Moscow merchants to build up more serious art collections. It was Shchukin who had commissioned the Harmony in Red currently hanging in Paul Cassirer's gallery in Berlin. Shchukin came to see it there and, unlike the German art world, was powerfully impressed. On 9 January he followed Matisse to Paris to inspect work in hand in the studio, including the Nymph and Satyr.
Shchukin took delivery of six Matisse paintings in the month after he got back to Moscow. The painter said that in some ways he came to dread the visits of this particular collector because of his unerring knack for picking out the latest breakthrough canvas and carrying it off, sometimes with the paint still wet. Shchukin grasped at once that Nymph and Satyr was an affront to decency and morals, which only increased his impatience to possess it. This new canvas could not easily be displayed in mixed company, let alone in public. It was quite different from the sexy pictures other men kept behind locked doors in their private rooms and cabinets. Its secret kick for a subversive like Shchukin was precisely that it violated every sacred Beaux-Arts precept enshrined in the flawless public nudes that filled the Paris salons.
The contemporary French incarnation of those precepts in the eyes of fashionable Moscow was Maurice Denis. Shchukin himself owned several pictures by Denis, who had once embodied the last word in sophistication for him, too. In January 1909, Denis was making waves in Moscow. He had come to install his latest work in the home of another Moscow merchant, Ivan Abramovich Morozov (who had also made a fortune out of textiles). Morozov, who was Shchukin's close friend and only Russian rival in the field of modern art, had ordered seven huge painted panels telling the story of Cupid and Psyche for his music room.
Denis pictured Cupid as a plump, life-size, naked youth wearing wings to match his predominant colour scheme of pink, green and blue. His Psyche is a solid girl with cushiony breasts, buttocks and hips. The couple's sturdy build adds to the absurdity of their chaste embrace as they dangle cheek to cheek in midair with nothing touching below the waist. The décor of Cupid's palace with its garden ornaments, mauve silk drapes and floral sprays is more reminiscent of an expensive modern florist than of ancient Greece. This is seduction with any hint of desire or danger airbrushed out. It went down well on its first showing at the Paris Autumn Salon, and it made an even bigger splash in Moscow. So much so that Morozov, who was thinking of hiring Matisse to decorate his dining room, dropped the idea in favour of commissioning six more panels from Denis.
It was Shchukin instead who commissioned wall paintings from Matisse. The painter never forgot the lunch at the Restaurant Larue in Paris where the pair of them together hatched a plan to end all blue-pink-and-green decorative schemes peopled with dancing nymphs and piping fauns. Matisse's Dance and Music grew from their conversation at this lunch. "I hope that when they see your decorations, the tumult of admiring cries to be heard at present will die down a little," Shchukin wrote in May, describing the fuss over Denis's Psyche. "At present they talk of it as a great masterpiece. They laugh at me a little, but I always say, 'He who laughs last, laughs best.' I trust you always."
Nymph and Satyr, one of the starting points for the new scheme, was finished, crated up and posted off to Moscow in early February. By this time, Matisse had left Paris for the Mediterranean coast. He planned to spend a month at the little Hotel Cendrillon in Cassis, replenishing the stocks of energy depleted by the gloom and strain of a Parisian winter. Walking along the steeply shelving shore at Cassis and in the chestnut woods on the cliff top, he studied air, water, light, sun glinting on spray, waves pounding on rocks as he had done further along the coast at Collioure four years earlier. "There is ... a cove near Cassis," wrote Marcel Sembat, who spent a day with Matisse in early March, "where the green of the open sea on the horizon brings out the deep blues and foamy whites of the tide trapped between cliffs, which you can see jostling and throwing up little blade-like crests in the full sun."
Movement preoccupied the painter in the run-up to the Dance. Sembat was struck by the intensity and accuracy of Matisse's response to the violent swirling currents, "the clash of creative contrasts we talked about together." Sembat, seven years older than Matisse, married to a painter and himself a passionate art enthusiast, was an exceptionally acute and attentive witness. By his own account he was living out a dream that day in Cassis, having brought with him one of his lifelong heroes, the great reforming architect of the Third Republic, Jean Jaurès. The Socialist leader and his two companions walked and talked beside the sea, delighted with one another, with the brilliant spring sunshine, and with the infectious visual excitement emanating from Matisse at the end of his month in the country. They rounded off their morning over lunch at the hospitable little village inn. Sembat wrote the day up in his diary and returned to it again a decade later, leaving no doubt that, for him at least, there was something magical about this unlikely encounter between two great French stars, one rising fast, the other soon due to set forever.
Sembat's writings provide some of the sharpest and most lucid testimony to Matisse's progress in the decade leading up to the First World War. The two first met, probably, through Georgette Agutte, Sembat's wife, who had belonged loosely to the same little knot of painters as Matisse in their student days. But they had an even earlier point of contact through Matisse's wife, Amélie, whose father, Armand Parayre, knew Sembat from the start of his career. As a newly elected Socialist deputy writing leaders for Parayre's radical campaigning newspaper, Sembat had belonged to the generation of up-and-coming Republican politicians who, unlike many of their elders, managed to leap clear of the sensational Humbert scandal which all but destroyed Matisse's in-laws in 1902. Parayre himself survived public ignominy, imprisonment and a dramatic trial with the help of his young son-in-law (this was the first if not the last time Matisse had reason to be thankful for the brief training as a lawyer forced on him by his own father).
Amélie Matisse emerged, like her father, apparently unscathed from her family's terrifying ordeal. (Her mother, who never got over it, died prematurely in 1908.) But the affair left Amélie with a deep-seated horror of any kind of exposure, and a lasting suspicion of the outside world. It reinforced her self-reliance, her stubborn pride and her almost reckless indifference to what other people thought. Beneath the demure and unassertive manner that was all she showed to those who didn't know her, Amélie was, by the standards of her class and age, profoundly unconventional. Her marriage had been a gamble in which money, security, and social advantage played no part. She became her husband's eager partner in a high-risk enterprise neither ever truly doubted would one day succeed. She had recognised what was in him at sight, and backed her instinct unreservedly ever after.
At times, when Matisse found himself disowned not only by the professional art world but by most of his fellow artists too, his wife remained virtually his only backer. Mutual trust was the core of their relationship. "The basis of our happiness ... was that we built up this confidence quite naturally from the first day," Amélie wrote long afterwards to Marguerite. "It has been for us the greatest good and the envy of all our friends, it meant we could get through the worst of times." The two did everything together. Almost from the day they met, they were known as the Inseparables. The four weeks Henri spent in Cassis was probably the longest time they had been parted since their marriage eleven years before. The studio was the centre of their world, and it was her province as much as his. Henri and his painting gave Amélie's life its shape and meaning. Hardship and privation hardly mattered by comparison; nor did the rising tide of mockery and abuse that accompanied Matisse's growing fame.
Even the arrival of their children hadn't greatly changed their way of life. When it came to a choice, work took precedence over child care. Their elder son, Jean, grew up as much at home with his Matisse grandparents in the north of France as with his parents in Paris. The younger boy, Pierre, spent so much time in the south with his Parayre grandfather and Amélie's only sister, Berthe, that his aunt became his second mother. Amélie herself was closer to the boys' older half sister, Marguerite (or Margot), who was Henri's child by an earlier liaison, and who became in some ways a second self to her adoptive mother. It was Marguerite who stayed at home, sharing the life of the studio that meant life itself to the Matisses.
The family dynamics began to shift a little when they finally moved out of Henri's cramped bachelor flat in a block opposite Notre Dame into a disused convent at 33 boulevard des Invalides on the far side of Montparnasse. Money was still tight. . . .


A Love Affair With Color

By JULIAN BARNES
Published: November 29, 1998, Sunday







THE UNKNOWN MATISSE
A Life of Henri Matisse:
The Early Years, 1869-1908.
By Hilary Spurling.
Illustrated. 480 pp. New York:
Alfred A. Knopf. $40. The French rather despise biography: for them it is a low form, the roundup of such factoids and gossip as the law permits. The British, on the other hand, treat it as a major literary genre: monumental in Victorian times, svelte and waspish in Strachey's reinvention, and now, post-Holroyd, getting vast again. This difference is partly a matter of temperament. The French are more bourgeois, more liable to circle the wagons round the memory of a great French man or woman. The British are more prurient and more afflicted by tall-poppy syndrome (Larkin was a wanker, Durrell may have committed incest, Koestler was a rapist -- that's cut them down to size). But there is also a divergence of intellectual tradition. The French treat a work of art as a prompt to wider, more abstract reflection; the British as a segment of coded life, whether give-away self-expression or unconvincing cover-up. The French tend to be centripetal; the British reductive.
So setting a British biographer on to the life of a great Frenchman is a deft piece of cross-casting. ''The Unknown Matisse'' is a work of deep research and intense concentration, full of archive-sweat, legwork and looking. Securing the trust of the Matisse family was central to Hilary Spurling's enterprise, but her tenacity in hunting down obscure documentation and forgotten dramatis personae is most impressive. Camille Joblaud, Matisse's early mistress and model, died at Concarneau in 1954; Spurling tracked down the nun who nursed her on her deathbed. Her sense of time, place and social texture is admirable. Above and beyond this there is her attitude to Matisse and his genius. ''When you write the biography of a friend,'' Flaubert told Ernest Feydeau (at a time when Matisse was 3), ''you must do it as if you were taking revenge for him.'' Spurling is such a biographer, and such a friend.
The first half of a famous life is usually more interesting, and more tantalizing, then the second. Once the artist has become celebrated, there tends to be only one of two plots: artist carries on hacking it, or artist loses it. Moreover, the account of a life that has become successful somehow assumes that it could not have been otherwise: that the obstacles overcome were always bound to have been overcome. Whereas the first part of a life is full of implicit narrative risk. Logically, we know that our hero is going to make it; but at the same time rival possibilities -- which seem like probabilities to our hero -- loiter like footpads.
''The Unknown Matisse'' is haunted at various points by the presence of such parallel, unfulfilled lives. When the 21-year-old painter first reached Paris in 1891, he was accompanied by two other young artistic renegades from French Flanders, two other versions of himself: Louis van Cutsem and Jules Petit. The first dropped out after a few years and became a sugar broker; the second stuck to his dreams and was broken. Disillusioned and ill, Petit died at the age of 26. Why them and not him, we wonder. Later in the decade, Matisse formed part of another artistic -- and again northern -- trio, with two other Henris: Evenepoel and Huklenbrok. Of the three, Huklenbrok was the most successful, and Evenepoel at least as promising as Matisse. Evenepoel died of typhoid fever in 1899, just as he was about to paint Clemenceau; Huklenbrok had a breakdown, and though he lived on until 1942, his family destroyed all his work ''for fear of seeing their name dishonored.'' The three Henris had seemed to have equal shares of northern determination, family disapproval, indifferent health (Matisse was dogged by insomnia, nervous tension and intestinal troubles) -- and talent. Again, why them and not him?
Matisse has the good luck to keep serious (as opposed to temporarily incapacitating) ill health at bay; the greater luck to find in his wife, Amelie, a support system to replace that of his grudging family; and the mysterious something -- beyond luck, beyond hard work -- that turns talent into genius. Again and again, the reader fears for Matisse, as in a good novel: how will he get out of this hole, who will buy this work, what if he gives up? Spurling is at her most skillful in evoking the French art scene of those changing years: the old teachers, the Young Turks, the controlling authorities, the free spirits, the rivalrous camaraderie of student and debutant, neo-Impressionist and Fauve. And she is also centrally attentive to what matters most: the man before the canvas, and the fretful, intimate, public transaction that took place as Matisse worked his way toward what we now, still, call Modernism.
One of the pauses on that path has been labeled by some critics Matisse's ''dark period'': a two-year stretch, starting in 1902, when he retrenched as an artist, drawing back from experimentalism and explosive color. The ''dark'' has previously referred only to pigment: Spurling now relates it to a wider gloom. It was in 1902 that the Humbert Affair broke -- a typically French, decades-long financial swindle beginning with an invented inheritance and ending with murder, suicide and corruption at the heart of the Republican establishment. The parents of Matisse's wife were close associates of the principals in the case, and endured much vilification before being cleared. Matisse (whose studio was searched by police when the scandal broke) became involved, and the strain led to one of his periodic nervous collapses.
The Humbert Affair is familiar to historians; but the Matisse connection had not previously been noticed by art critics. At first Spurling merely lays out the scandal in lush detail, with not much more than an implicit Q.E.D. A hundred pages later, in one of those moments of biographical sleight of hand, she behaves as if her case were proved, referring to ''the fiercely experimental phase cut short by the Humbert scandal.'' There is, however, a certain problem of evidence. No one in the painter's wide circle ever mentioned the affair in print (or, presumably, in subsequently reported conversation); while Matisse's only reference to it -- or the only one Spurling quotes -- is a lighthearted aside. Seeing his parents-in-law give evidence in court for three days was, he quipped, ''a waste of time'' compared to a session with his favorite model. Not much sign of anguish there.
The only real evidence is that of the paintings themselves, of Matisse's previous career and his known artistic priorities. Spurling's excitement over her discovery is understandable, but ironically the strongest argument against her theory lies in her own earlier characterization of the painter. If Flaubert was l'homme-plume, the pen-man, then Matisse was the brush-man, austerely committed to finding his way regardless of sales (the ''dark'' pictures in any case went as unsold as the pre-dark ones); he was an artist for whom having nothing to lose was actually a spur to creativity, and a man who told his future wife that much as he loved her, he would always love painting more. Does this sound like someone who would lose his nerve and paint safe because of his in-laws' embarrassment? Isn't the reason for the ''dark period'' always more likely to be painterly rather than biographical?
This is an untypical outburst of reductivism on Hilary Spurling's part. There are also moments of uncertainty in her translation from the French; and this must be the only biography of the last 30 years to have nothing to say about its subject's sex life. But it is still a splendid work. Near its end, Spurling quotes a story of two young American women applying to study under Matisse and giving their reason as such: ''We want your color.'' Matisse replied, ''If you haven't brought your own color, you will never get mine.'' Hilary Spurling is a doughty transmitter and fierce defender of that color, and of all that it represents. Her second volume cannot arrive too soon.

Julian Barnes's new novel, ''England, England,'' will be published here in May.
Published: 11 - 29 - 1998 , Late Edition - Final , Section 7 , Column 1 , Page 6

Friday, 29 November, 2002, 14:29 GMT
Fresh outlook on Matisse's early years
Matisse museum
The museum is a good introduction to Matisse's works

By Alexandra Fouché
BBC News Online, Le Cateau-Cambrésis
Tucked away in a quiet corner of rural France is the birthplace of one of the founders of modern art where he spent the formative years of his life.
Henri Matisse, associated in most minds with the south of France, was born in the small town of Le Cateau-Cambrésis in the industrial north - far removed from the glamorous life of the Riviera.
As a way of honouring his birth town, he set up a museum in 1952 by donating some of his works - which makes it one of the few museums created by an artist in his lifetime.
Matisse's birthplace, Le Cateau-Cambrésis
Matisse created the museum to put his town on the map
Now the small 18th-Century palace which houses the collection has been renovated and a new building added to accommodate a very respectable selection of his works - the third largest behind the Pompidou centre in Paris and the Matisse Museum in Nice. It is also very diverse, with a number of paintings, drawings, sculptures and some of his famous gouache cuttings.
In a message of thanks to his town displayed in the museum, Matisse, who was born in 1869, explains that his passion for art only hit him later on in life, after his initial start as a lawyer.
The museum, he says, "is one part of the result of the life of labour which was imposed on me by destiny".
Revelatory trip
His initial paintings are rather grey - not quite the colourful concoctions he is famous for.
But all that changes after a trip to Corsica in 1898, where he develops his passion for colour and light.
A few years after this revelation, he remarks: "The quest for colour did not come to me from the study of other paintings, but from the outside, ie from the revelation of the light in nature."
Matisse museum
The venue has already attracted thousands of visitors
There are only a handful of the master's oil paintings on show including his very last one - Femme à la Gandoura Bleue (1951).
One of the highlights of the visit, however, is the portrait of his three grandchildren, which he sketched on a ceiling with the help of a fishing rod so he could see them while in bed.
A reclining chair allows visitors to be Matisse for a moment and imagine what he might have felt contemplating the ghostly figures floating above him.
But Matisse is not the only artists featured in the museum. Illustrations for an art journal created by luminaries of the art world such as Picasso, Chagal, Miro, Giacometti, Le Corbusier and Leger can also be seen.
Visiting frenzy
The newly reopened gallery may in some ways be a victim of its own success with visitor numbers tripling since its relaunch, as long queues outside the museum testify.
On the day BBC News Online visited, they had run out of audio guides and museum information sheets so overwhelming was the demand.
The town itself has gone Matisse-mad. At the local restaurant, patrons are offered Matisse chocolates, and every other establishment displays some sort of Matisse memorabilia.
Aficionados planning a visit would probably be well advised to wait a while for the frenzy to abate or visit on a weekday.
In any case, they will not be disappointed by their trip to the birthplace of one of the world's greatest painters.
They may not see his most famous works, but they will gain a better understanding of how his artistic genius emerged.
The Matisse Museum in Le Cateau-Cambrésis is open every day except Monday, between the hours of 1000-1230 and 1400-1800 from September to May and 1000-1800 from June to August. It is 90 kilometres (60 miles) from Lille and 170 km (100 miles) from Paris.

The Modern Acquires a 'Lost' Matisse

Published: September 8, 2005
A rich and hypnotic interior by Matisse whose whereabouts had been unknown to scholars in recent decades has been purchased for the Museum of Modern Art by its new president, Marie-Josée Kravis, and her husband, the financier Henry Kravis.
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Museum of Modern Art
"The Plum Blossoms" (1948), by Matisse.

Michael Sima, via Museum of Modern Art
Henri Matisse at his studio in the south of France in 1948.
The 1948 work, "The Plum Blossoms," is part of the last series of paintings created by Matisse before he died in 1954. It has not been on public view since 1970, when it was lent for an exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris, said John Elderfield, the Modern's chief curator of painting and sculpture. It was sold the same year to an unidentified collector.
Measuring nearly 3 by 4 feet, the painting depicts a woman, her face left blank and featureless, sitting at a table against a heavily saturated rust-red and ocher background, with a tall vase of blooming flowers dominating the foreground. It is among seven interiors that Matisse painted in 1947 and 1948 in his studio in Vence, in the south of France. As an ensemble, the canvases form a panorama of the artist's work environment in his final years.
While neither Mr. Elderfield nor Ms. Kravis would say what she and her husband paid for the painting, experts in the field suggested that a work of that rarity and generous size would probably sell for around $25 million.
Mr. Elderfield said the painting came to light this summer, when he was approached by Franck Giraud, a Manhattan dealer, on behalf of an unidentified seller to see whether the Modern would be interested in buying a Matisse. "At first I couldn't figure out which Matisse he was talking about," Mr. Elderfield said.
"I had completely forgotten about the painting," Mr. Elderfield said this week in the Modern's conservation studio, where "The Plum Blossoms" was resting on a easel, awaiting a fitting for a new frame.
When he was organizing the museum's 1992 Matisse retrospective, Mr. Elderfield said, he tried unsuccessfully to locate "The Plum Blossoms."
He was, however, able to borrow the other six paintings in the series, all of which are in public institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Pompidou Center in Paris and the Phillips Collection in Washington.
As soon as Mr. Elderfield realized which painting Mr. Giraud was offering, he jumped. Even though the Modern already has a world-class collection of works by Matisse - some 58 paintings and sculptures and 35 drawings - it did not have any of the late paintings. He called Ms. Kravis, who went to see "The Plum Blossoms." Mr. Elderfield said he did not know the identity of the seller, although he said he guessed that it was not an American. (Many of Mr. Giraud's resources are European.) Mr. Giraud declined to provide any details on the seller's identity or whereabouts.
"It's a lucky find," Ms. Kravis said in a telephone interview yesterday. "When I first saw the painting I was overwhelmed by its beauty and its condition."
That last series of paintings, all of them intense conceptual studies, was executed when Matisse was working on his renowned decoration of the chapel in Vence and devoting much of his energy to making paper cutouts. He started two more paintings in 1951 but did not finish them.
Because "The Plum Blossoms" has always been in private hands, its condition is extraordinary. "It is unlined, the canvas has retained its original white brilliance, and aside from a surface cleaning, it remains untouched," Mr. Elderfield said.
Although the Modern has sometimes been criticized for not aggressively beefing up its holdings of recent art, both Mr. Elderfield and Ms. Kravis said the Matisse purchase was an irresistible coup.
"We have been buying a lot of contemporary art, but we add great monuments like this whenever we can," Mr. Elderfield said.
In June the museum was able to acquire "Rebus," one of Robert Rauschenberg's seminal paintings, with the help of Ronald S. Lauder, a former chairman and longtime trustee of the Modern, and his wife, Jo Carole Lauder. Two years ago it bought "Diver," a drawing by Jasper Johns from 1962-63 that is considered one of the century's most important works on paper.
Each time the museum acquires a rare work like "The Plum Blossoms," Mr. Elderfield has to chose a prominent place for it. He is rethinking the museum gallery devoted to Matisse, he said, and hopes to have the acquisition on the walls within a week.

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