Saturday, February 27, 2010

Matisse: The Master of Color

Without a doubt, Henri Matisse is one of a handful of the real giants of modern art.  He is considered "The Master of Color", but also is a master of shape, line, and composition, leading the way to many movements of art in the 20th century.

During the last years of his life Henri Matisse turned to using scissors, creating large maquettes for a number of works, some for the famous Chapel in Vence, France. These large number of monumental works, which are in such museums as the National Gallery, and the Museum of Modern Art, among others, were made available to a wider audience through the creation of smaller original lithographs.  Matisse’s superb images of shape and color were not published during his lifetime but soon after his death in 1954.  Mourlot, the major printer in Paris of original lithographic works, printed them under Matisse’s close supervision.  Teriade, a close friend, who Matisse worked with for decades, published these original lithographs  in Verve in 1958.  We have many of these for sale in our gallery.

"Draw with the scissors," said Matisse. "The cut is the design, even of the color, the shape that color imposes on itself by its own harmony. The creative movement of the hand operates to cut into what exists rather than to draw in the imaginary."  These works are the culmination of all of the artist's years of working with color and form.  He was able to bring his vision into the refined elements of pure color and shape, with the figurative context remaining as in the exuberant Apollon pictured above.  In addition, the decorative Souvenier d'Ocean below , along with others in this group of work, is as close to abstract design as the artist ever came.
A number of these works are now available at the R.H. Ballard Gallery and represent a compendium of Matisse's last body of work, just as exuberant, if not even more so, than all the work that came before.  

Some years ago in a preface to a showing of Matisse's collages, Teriade wrote: "Pure color, flat color and its corollary, line design, have always directed Matisse's main researches. The miracle is that he has been able to hold passionately to that primary guiding principle, even to the invention of his cut-paper art work of today, a logical conclusion and absolute freeing of the painter.”

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chagall Floats Above the Crowds

The delight that an image by Marc Chagall can bring is most gratifying.

The artist, originally from Russia, has created a body of work that literally floats above the crowd of modern art from the 1st half of the 20th century.  Starting out as a cubist, and retaining aspects of that movement thorough out his career, the artist moved away from the general solidity that cubism brought to a lighter more expressive mode.

Chagall seemed to thrive on personal experience and emotions that carried his work to a realm of expression that was totally unique and defying categorization.  Though many artists since have been influenced by his work, none come to a stage that is as personal and groundbreaking.  His use of personal imagery and self-portraits in a fanciful setting is quite engaging as well as his take on other timeless subjects.  A good example of his portrayal of his relationship to his life, wife and artwork is “Devant St. Jeannet” where he sees himself as a rooster painting a portrait of he and his wife with the small hillside town in southern France.

Chagall’s work often relates to his beloved and adopted home of France, and more specifically of Paris and the south.  In his famous Paris Opera mural, which covers the entire inside of the dome of that building, the artist created a fantasy of images illustrating the joy and magic of the opera.  He created a lithograph for the occasion of a book on the mural that gives a wonderful synopsis of the grand painting "Le Plafond de L'Opera".

The lithographic work of Chagall allows individuals to own an original work without spending huge sums of money.  These two original lithographs are a very small portion of the artist’s work in that medium.   Visit the Chagall page on our website to see a few more examples.