Monoliths of Modern Art: Matisse & Picasso
great victory over war is painting...
the Queens branch of New York Museum of Modern Art (The
Museum of Modern Art, Queens "MoMA QNS") Henri
and Pablo Picasso (1981-1973) exhibition
opened its doors on February 13th. The exhibition may
only be seen in New York until May 19th.
Matisse: Portrait Marguerite, 1906
Picasso: Pitcher, Bowl and Lemon, 1907
"No one has ever looked at Matisse's painting more
carefully than I; and ono one has looked at mine more
carefully than he." Pablo Picasso
the tickets cost 20 USD for Matisse Picasso exhibition, "Ticketmaster"
sold the tickets, just like the Broadway Shows. The day
I went to see the exhibition on a Friday on September
14, although the weather was very cold, it was the second
opening day of the exhibition and all the tickets were
sold out at 11:00 in the morning. The museum staff, to
avoid the rush of the crowd, took the visitors inside
in groups every hour.
exhibition is the comparison and the summary of 20th century
modern art, and the perspective of two monoliths against
the first and the second world war, continuing to create
their work of art, reflecting the two different dimensions
of 20th century art, where Henry Matisse' and Pablo Picasso's
art and friendship takes place.
Matisse, "De Luxe I", 1907, Picasso, "Boy
Leading a Horse" 1905-06
Figurative painting, two paintings as figurative example
of the rivalry exhibited at the first period.
The works of art of the two giant artists are exhibited
side by side hanging on the walls showing us how the works
of art of each of the artists affected the other in which
period of time, which is designed for observing the reflection
of their influence on each other’s works. In other
words, the artistic influence of fifty years, along with
their competition and their parallel dialogue
is effectively imaginative and striking with 132
works of arts, which are presented to the world of art.
The Matisse Picasso exhibition on MOMA-QNS consists of paintings,
statues, and collage works of the monolith that peaked
the 20th century modern art in its era. At the same time
on the exhibition, the works of art of the artists with
an extra-ordinary presentation; parallel to the interactive
and continuing dialogue of their art and life, invites
the visitors to a new realization with the dynamics and
the energy the works held within.
and Matisse represent a unique example in the history
of arts by being a rival and getting inspiration from
the art of one another with their intimate friendship
of highest caliber over fifty years.
Blue Nude, Memory of Biskra, 1907
and Matisse met each other during an exhibition in 1906.
At that period of time Matisse was the leader frontier
of the art of “fauvism”. Picasso was 12 years
younger than Matisse a young artist that has moved from
Spain to Paris and joined the promising state of art with
his talent and effection, his first aim was to get recognition
and fame in the world of artists in Paris. His social
background, life style, and talent have drawn the attention
of critics in a very short time.
artists met each other in 1906, there wasn't clash, but
rather both of them traded their own paintings in 1907.
The original idea of the exhibition by John Golding
(artist, historian and curator of the Tate Modern Museum)
was inspired by the avocation of Picasso, which he states
that ,"You have got to be able to picture side by
side everything Matisse and I were doing at that time.
No one has ever looked at Matisse's painting more carefully
than I; and ono one has looked at mine more carefully
than he." (Picasso, In Old Age; Matisse Picasso Exhibition
The exhibition project took place for the first time in
Tate Modern Museum of London (curated by John Golding)
between May 11- August 18, 2002 in London at Tate Modern;
the second exhibiton took place in Galleries Nationales
Du Grand Palais, on September 22, 2002 – January
6, 2002 in Paris. The Matisse Picasso exhibition is the
third and most likely the last chain of this major exhibitions
Picasso: Bather 1908-9
Day & Night
The critics compare that the personalities of Matisse
and Picasso are as different as day and night. Against
all, they define that Picasso was born with a passionate
and a bohemian character and was more of a revolutionist.
Matisse on the other hand, is more self-contained, gentle,
and self-confident. He attended exhibitions with a suit
and a tie, which represents the maturity of his character.
While Picasso was already being accepted as the myth and
the genius of modern art in 1930’s and 1940s has
appeared in public demonstrations to maintain the need
to confirm his fame and genius. All in all Matisse has
taken rare public appearances and social activities, his
whole world was his studio and his paintings and it was
implied that this world of his was enough for him.
bringing a new dimension taking the risk of “out-of-the-extraordinary”
in his art is someone working non-stop in his studio by
ignoring the world out side, labeling himself a "worker
artist." Matisse, on the contrary being married with
three kids, taking risks at the age of fifty, leaving
his family, with a paint box, luggage and his violin in
his hand, moves to Nice,
just like a student. He travels to Morocco, Algeria,
Tahiti, and America. Picasso on the contrary does not
feel the need to move out of Paris until the end of Second
to New York after opening in London and Paris, the Matisse
Picasso exhibition was evaluated from the point of the
works of the artists. Picasso being definitive, revolutionary,
brave, and creative. Matisse being evaluated as peculiar
and decorative. For this reason, the two giant artists
have made their mark and shaped the art of the 20th century,
they are evaluated with their character forming two different
poles along with their art as well. Because of this exhibition
either the curators of this exhibition or the art historians
at their previous evaluations, advise that it should be
revised and re-written.
the very beginning, despite their obvious differences
aesthetically and conceptually, mostly same collectors
purchased both artists’ paintings at the same period
of time and exhibited them in their wall side by side,
or up & down on the same wall.
When the American Stein family purchased Matisse’
“Madam Matisse” in 1905, Matisse’ painting
was placed on the wall with Gaugen and other contemporaries,
then short after that Picasso’s Getrude Stein’s
portrait joined to their collection, and placed on their
wall top of the Matisse’ painting.
Portait of Gertrude Stein, 1905-6; Matisse: Portrait of
Auguste Pellerin II, 1917
modernist author Getrude Stein sat for 3 months for her
portrait by Picasso. Picasso became increasingly frustrated
and is noted to have said, "I can't see you anymore."
He then deletes the head of her portrait.
Picasso completes her portrait from his memory, and previously
worked mask and sketches. Pellerin, after seeing Picasso’s
Gertrude Stein portrait, wants to have his portrait made
by Matisse. When Matisse finishes the first one, Pellerin
didn’t like it very much, and so asks him to make
another one. Matisse paints another Pellerin’s portrait
but this protrait is found even more unappealing by Pellerin.
However, in the end, Pellerin purchases both of his portraits.
At the MoMA-QNS exhibition, Matisse and Picasso collectors’
Getrude Stein and oil trader Auguste Pellerin portraits
have exhibited side by side, as well.
together with being the father of “fauvism”,
at the every turn point of art history, kept, the use
of colors unusual, brave, matching with the figures, and
expressions of it with colors, beyond all other elements.
Picasso, in the world of arts, re-located esthetic figures
forming cubism, labeling the art of 20th century by aesthete
of the painting of thought. The two giant artists with
their aesthetic and conceptual approach exhibited their
lives on different dimensions. At The Sistine Chapel,
Matisse, started to work with the stained glass and the
wall paintings, what he did were the results of a work
that went on for four years. In his work of art, although
with the availability of the little space inside the chapel,
and with the space given by the light and the reflection
of light, he reflected figures such as women opening like
flowers, mother, and child figures in flower motives and
the nature with the harmony of colors. In addition, Matisse'
works under the influence of Buddhism is defined as a
summary of art of living and philosophy of life. On the
contrary, Picasso being an atheist and member of the communist
party even wasn’t aware of Buddhism at that time.
Picasso with the thesis that a painting should resemble
an ideal thought and with the communist manifesto, he
came out with "clear cut" and aesthete of the
world he believed in. He painted within the communist
concept, "War & Peace" after Matisse' Sistine
Chapel, as his own chapel. (Source: Matisse Picasso
documentary by Philippe Kohly, 2002)
taking thought-concept higher than color and harmony,
re-constructing-de-constructing everything around him
in his paintings as well as sculptures, and Matisse going
beyond the limits of colors, his harmony with figures,
peace, getting the inner balance was observed by the collectors
from the beginning.
Harlequin, 1915; Matisse: The Piano Lesson, 1916
to paint against the war
and after World War 1, continuing to paint against the
war, proving their existence in terms of some means, the
realization of the exhibition of Matisse and Picasso for
the first time has taken place in 1918 in Paris as a success
of two painters. Their exhibition’s brochure represented
by puppet images of the two artists.
knowing very well about anatomy still works with models
all the time. In other words, the fish, the flowers in
the vase, his color palette and models are what self-portrayed
the contrary, Picasso works without a model. Instead he
opst for his imagination.
Picasso produced mostly his autobiography via his
paintings. In one of the exhibitions of Matisse in 1930,
Picasso noticed a statue and with this he turned out to
work with models. In his statues he had an approach called
de-constructivism and constructivism with the concept
of surrealism where Matisse could never turn out to practice.
says “nobody has ever watched Matisse’ paintings
as close as I and nobody has watched mine as close as
he." Some sources say that during the time Picasso
came to Paris, Matisse was at the peak of his avant-garde
work, which persisted an opposite source of power and
The great victory over war is painting...
and Picasso followed each other, painting in different
dimensions above the limit; with their art carrier parallel
to each other and with the lifetime decisions they gave.
For example: Matisse was holding a ticket to go to Brazil
during the Second World War when Germans entered France.
Nevertheless, Matisse instead of leaving the country and
not performing because of war, he continued painting against
the war which in turn prolonged his resistance in France.
The great victory for Matisse is painting besides and
against war. Picasso following Matisse’ decision,
stays in Paris regardless of the invasion. He is painting,
and not leaving his studio during the time of invasion.
At that time Matisse lives in Nice, and Picasso living
in Paris did not get together at all. However, they write
to each other with the help of mutual friends. When Picasso
missed Matisse, he bought his paintings in Paris, and
placed them at the best spot at his studio. When Picasso
died, he had 10 of Matisse’ paintings which he had kept for the rest
of his life.
soon as the war ends, the "mutual works" against
war between Matisse & Picasso was exhibited in London
for the second time followed by exhibitions in Amsterdam
and Brussels in 1946.
the war, this time it was Picasso who moved to Nice with
his love that he lived together with and inspiration of
his life, Francoise Gilot, who was 25- years-old at that
time period. Picasso, having two kids from Francoise,
the family had most of the pleasure and excitement during
their visits to Matisse.
with the cancer treatment Matisse underwent in 1940, he
had not recovered in a fast pace and remained in his bed,
accepting the guests at his bedroom. At that period he
did not paint with oil but rather getting the inspiration
from his collages he made as a child by performing them
in his bed and on the wheel chair he was sitting in. The
final effects of the collages Matisse made were seen in
Picasso’s non-dimensional, metal statues during
the years of 1960-1962.
Matisse and Picasso after fifty years of rivalry and the
continuous interactive dialogue throughout their art careers,
it is viewed as the most noticeable and exciting communication
between two artists.
Acrobat, 1930; Matisse: Acrobats, 1952
artists, at the beginning of their careers, were competing
with each other making their mark in terms of fame and
modern art. The obvious opposition in their art was the
dialogue between Matisse and Picasso. It was defined by
Matisse as “strange and extra-ordinary agreement."
quotation from Matisse’ letter to Picasso was exhibited
at the last part of the exhibition saying, "We must
talk each other as much as we can. When one of us dies,
there will be some things that the other will never be
able to talk of with anyone else."
Matisse died in 1954, his daughter Margurerite called
Picasso immediately. Picasso never returned the call and
does attend the funeral. He instead goes into a deep silence
after the death of Matisse.
to work on his series of 15 paintings two months after
his death, which was his reply to his silence and pain.
Then Picasso continues his dialogue with Matisse in the
series of 15 pictures. At the last part of the exhibition
the painting “Women of Algiers" takes place
from the series labeled after Delacroix [Canvas N],1955.
In this series Picasso refers to Delacroix, whom Matisse
admired so much, at the same time includes his impression
to paintings called “Odalisque." With this
impression the theme of "Odalisque" was an inheritance
he left to Picasso.
The Shadow, 1953
Violinist at the Window, 1918
two monoliths of the 20th century's modern art, following
each others affections, empowering and inspiring each
other's lives with art never seen before. The understanding
of their dialogue and their exhibition ends with two paintings
that has been inspired from a different source. These
paintings in one concept are meant to be their self-portraits.
The first one is, Picasso, in "The Shadow",
symbolizing himself as a black silhouette. His back turned
to the audience in a cold disposition. The black silhouette
looking into his bedroom. In the room there are symbolic
toys such as a horse carriage. He is recalling the children
he had with Francoises. At the same time, a contour of a nude, is to display Francoises
in the bedroom on the sky blue color bed in white, as
if at the point of harmony within the sky blue color eloborates
love as sacred, and the theme of "woman" and
"love" are the most valuable in his life as
a source of his art.
painting is hanging next to the above described painting.
Matisse, with his violin on his shoulder and, his back
turned to the audience playing the violin looking out
of his room. We notice that related with this picture
Matisse' violin and music is his second favorite after
days in New York, yet with hundred thousands of people
along with the protest of the proposal war, New Yorker's
are visiting Matisse Picasso exhibition in the "Art
Against War" with a degree of excitement and great
deal of attention.
picture of the entrance of Museum of Modern Art that opened
in Queens’s area, the home of Matisse Picasso exhibition.
curators of the exhibition are John Elderfield, Kirk Varnedoe,
John Golding, Elizabeth Cowling, Anne Baldassari, Isabelle
Monod-Fontaine. New York, Museum of Modern Art, the sponsor
for the exhibition in Queens is Merrill Lyinch.
- . -
Giants of the 20th Century's Modern Art Met
at the MoMA-QNS in New York...
Light Millennium, 17 Subat, 2003, New York.