Early Modernism: 1900-1920 From The Moderna Museet Collection
(Exhibition 2011, Moderna Museet Malmö)
In this exhibition, we highlight works from Moderna Museet’s rich collection of early 20th century art, including artists such as Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, Wassily Kandinsky, Siri Derkert, Sonia Delaunay, Edvard Munch, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and many others.
Henri Matisse and Fauvism was one of the more difficult topics we covered in the last few weeks. Matisse is not a painter I’m familiar with so I really had a lot to learn on the painter and the fauvist movement. The lecture was fairly short but it was comprehensible enough for me to learn that the movement had a lot to do with the bold play of colors.
I read somewhere that one of the fauve painters even applied paint directly from the tube to the canvas - I could be wrong so correct me if I am. But looking at Andre Derain’s work, I can certainly believe it.
Fishing Boats, Collioure by André Derain
(1905, Oil on canvas)
Looking at Derain’s and, especially, Matisse’s works, they seem quite childish at first glance. The shapes are simple and the bright colors gave the illusion of playfulness. But as the paintings are analyzed, we could see that there was more to his works than just playing with colors. One of the most impressive Matisse paintings that I saw - the one that was also featured on the lecture - was The Red Studio.
If you zoom in on it, you could see thin, faint lines that he used to outline some of the objects that are in the studio (his studio, which was actually white, but one he painted red). What made me wonder was whether he applied the red paint first and made the outline later, or made the outline first and then painted the entire canvas red very carefully as to not disturb the lines later. (I posed this question to the lecturer. And he still hasn’t answered me.)
In a major moment of annoyance during the session, someone posed this question to the lecturer:
“Why would Matisse paint that way, leaving a lot of things unfinished? Only children paint that way and some children can even finish their paintings! Was Matisse touched in the head?”
Excuse me if I found the question distasteful. An art enthusiast - one who could be bothered to attend a MoMA online course session - should know better. This one, however, was narrow minded enough to put a painter’s state of mind down, implying that one was “crazy” just because he used a certain technique on his paintings that seemed childlike and unfinished. Ironically, we did learn, by the way, that the technique Matisse used is, in fact, called non-finito (“unfinished” in Italian).
Me, I’m definitely Team Fauves.