Do No Harm

Frozen Lake Ontario shoreline in January

Matisse is a saint in my book, a candidate for pagan idolatry.

I ordered this cut-out book, “Expressionism in Germany and France,” while I was in the throes of preparation for “Witness” and I’m just now getting into it. I love German Expressionism, the more rough and tumble, the better, and I find it interesting those guys, coming out of WWI, were influenced by the dainty French. But this quote from Matisse is foundational!

“What I am after, above all, is expression … Expression, for me, does not reside in passion bursting from a human face or manifested by violent movement. The entire arrangement of my picture is expressive: the place occupied by the figures, the empty spaces around the, the proportions, all that has its share.

Composition is the art of arranging in a decorative manner the diverse elements at the painter’s command to express his feelings. In a picture every part will be visible and will play its appointed role, whether it be principal or secondary. Everything that is not useful in the picture is, it follows, harmful. A work of art must be harmonious in its entirety: any superfluous detail would replace some other essential detail in the mind of the spectator.”

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