Thursday, July 29, 2010

Paintings I Like, pt. 57

Henri Matisse, "Still Life with Aubergines," 1911. Oil on canvas, 46" x 35."

I just got back from Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917 at MoMA, and I certainly enjoyed it... but...

I understand why he was so wedded to that heavy black line at the time: he was experimenting with picture structure and responding to Cubism. But that line corralled and blunted his greatest asset; he was and remains one of the greatest handlers of color in history. Black lines, while an excellent device for dividing up the picture plane, keep colors from touching and interacting.

After seeing the big show, my friends and I went downstairs and saw the Matisse room which had pictures from the permanent collection from before and after 1913-1917. It was such a relief to see that soaring palette, not weighed down by heavy line - my favorite in that room will always be the Red Studio, but Still Life with Aubergines and Goldfish and Sculpture, both on the same wall as the former, also reminded me of why I love Matisse.