Taking center stage today is Matisse, that glorious virtuoso, giving it up for these talented ladies. The fun of this painting is the way Matisse uses pattern and color to “play” off of one another, creating an energetic, inviting composition. He visually mimics the beat of music with rhythmic patterns that echo and repeat throughout the painting. So lets turn up the volume- hey!
The first rhythm I notice is the series of palm leaves swaying behind the women. If you let your eye follow each tendriled finger, up and down, and up and down each leaf. . . you will start to fall into a lilting beat. Next, notice the dancing reds. The staccato saw tooth pattern of the couch’s red throw echos the triangular trim of the purple pants. The yellow squares of the rug steady the background, thumping out a deep base line.
Watch the melody played with the curves of the women’s bodies. Look at the yellow woman– the curves of her shoulders, her knees, her hands. Follow those curves to the right to the purple lady’s bottom, knees and feet. A punctuation of circles of breast, of guitar and apple. Repeat.
The green of leaves refrains down through the furniture of the couch and table. Yellow dress plays yellow guitar plays pants pattern. And my favorite, the “XOXO” pattern in the black ottoman. The colors play like notes and the patterns play like rhythm.
Despite their masculine solidity, these women are entirely feminine and welcoming, at ease against a background of high-octane abstraction. Despite the static heft of the figures, an energy vibrates. Relaxed and happy, you really hope they’ll invite you to stay.. .and listen to some real music.
So yes, I’m really loving Kandinsky right now. Maybe I’m finally starting to fall in love with Modern art. They’ve got this astonishing series of four Kandinsky panels at the MOMA, designed originally to surround you in a home’s entryway.
“Color is a means of exerting direct influence upon the soul. Color is a keyboard. The eye is the hammer. The soul is the piano, with its many strings.” Kandinsky
Now, I originally saw these and thought “Four Seasons” and saw the landscape qualities in them. Spring, summer, winter, fall.
My SigO saw music. The curator’s comments focused on the musical aspects, since Kandinsky was also a classical pianist and delved deeply into the spiritual and musical aspects of his painting. So I didn’t say much about my alternative interpretation because god knows I don’t want to be “wrong” about art. How embarrassing would that be? Ha!
As it turns out, a credible art expert takes my view as well, citing sketches Kandinsky made for these panels that show hills, sky, trees, etc.
Can I get a Hallelujah please? The stars aligned and the impossible happened. We were both”right.” If it can happen once, It can happen again right???
Kandinsky – not high on my art must see list. Primarily because I really didn’t know anything about him or too much about “modern” art or the Bauhaus school, which he taught at before the Nazi’s closed it in 1933. However the Guggenheim has a whole floor devoted to him that might just turn you into a fan. You wouldn’t know it at first glance, but a tremendous amount of planning went into the painting below. It’s the first time that an artist didn’t attempt to paint representationally.
“The sun melts all of Moscow down to a single spot that, like a mad tuba, starts all of the heart and all of the soul vibrating.”
There are perhaps 3-4 color studies he did before painting this as well as a dozen or so sketches which show him trying to figure out placement of the elements. You can actually feel him struggling with what he wants to express and having a hell of a time working it out. I love it. He was trying to capture the soul of his native Moscow in an entirely new art language, abstraction.
I’m not the only one who does a napkin sketch of my life and know it isn’t quite how I wanted it to look. Struggling to “figure it out.” In the end he solved his problem by surrounding the core of the painting with a swath of white cloud. White space. I’ll take another serving of white space, please.