I Stand Astounded

Matisse "Portrait of Baudelaire" Etching 1932-34 MoMA
Matisse “Portrait of Baudelaire” Etching 1932-34 MoMA

Fred Lipp wanted me to look at this etching by Matisse, a drawing really, and now I want to look at it, over and over. It’s a portrait of Baudelaire and, wow, does it look simple. Except that every line is absolutely perfect. None of the lines touch each other and they are all pretty much the same weight. They float in space while decribing physical form with supremely confident expression. There is so much volume in here and not one false move. You want to take each lines’ journey.


Exactitude Is Not Truth

Four drawings-portraits perhaps - by Matisse in 1947
Four drawings-portraits perhaps – by Matisse in 1947

I only have a few days left with the “Matisse Portraits” book that I checked out of the downtown library. I’m going to have to remove all the bookmarks and give it up. It is so jam packed with sensational drawings that it took me a few weeks before I could even read the copy. Peggi has been page turning Ann Rule’s “Every Breadth You Take” while I stare at drawings until I fall asleep.

Now that I have been able to get to some of the text I’m finding that Matisse is as articulate with words as he is with the brush. In an essay for the catalog for a collection of his work entitled “Exactitude Is Not Truth” (a Delacroix saying)he wrote,

“Among these drawings, which I have chosen with the greatest of care for this exhibition, are four drawings-portraits perhaps—done from my face as seen in a mirror. I should particularly like to call them to the visitors’ attention.

These drawings sum up, in my opinion, observations that I have made for many years about the charactcr of drawing, a character that does not depcnd on forms being copied exactly as they are in nature or on the patient assembling of exact details, but on the profound feeling of the artist before the objects that he has chosen, on which his attention is focussed, and whose spirit he has penetrated.”

It kills me how much volume Matisse gets in these line drawings. He devoted his life to careful observation of nature and dilligent hard work in order to make drawings look this easy.

Leave a comment

Matisse Is The Master

Maureen Outlaw painting 2009
Maureen Outlaw painting 2009

We had our last painting class at the Creative Workshop last night, last one until the Spring session starts in three weeks. I had my camera with me and I grabbed this shot of Maureen’s painting. She stands next to me in class and it is really fun to watch her paint. She works really fast and has a good time doing it. I try to work fast but spin my wheels and I’m not sure I’m having a good time.

I checked out a Matisse book from the downtown library and I don’t want to give it back. I had a hunch that it would help me with my ongoing problems. That is: drawing ears and noses on faces when the sitter (or mugshot in my case) is facing head on. Matisse does this better than anyone and he makes it look so easy. His drawings are so much fun to look at!