Friday, July 29, 2022

Matisse's "The Red Studio" at MoMA

two plaster sculptures from "The Red Room"

Matisse’s “The Red Studio” derived from the tradition of studio paintings (Velazquez's Las Meninas” is one of the most famous of its predecessors). Matisse was not painting himself so much as the objects in his studio and not the process ie palette or easel but the product. “The Red Studio” was as Apollinaire commented, the “most disparaged” of Matisse’s work.  His patron Serge Shchukin rejected the commission. There were ll objects in the artist’s studio at Issy Les Molineux  painted over in vermillion red. Amongst them were two plaster sculptures from a series entitled “Jeannette IV” clearly visible on two stools. The large nude has a particularly interesting provenance. Matisse used his daughter Margaret Duthuit as one of the models who posed with their knees raised. He alternately called these particular paintings, which were destroyed (and only exist as they're portrayed in "The Red Studio") as “night” or “dawn” after the names of Michelangelo’s sculptures on the two tombs in the Medici chapels. Alain Robbe-Grillet once said,“New forms seem like the absence of form.” Curiously there's still something radical and extreme about "The Red Studio." It feels like an act of erasure, as if the artist sacrificed the objects of his world--and their meanings--to color.

read "Inventing Abstraction at MoMA" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum

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