Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Matisse and Fairfield Porter

NB: There were 3 other Matisse painting in almost identical color schemes that I tried to post but once again the bloguniverse is not d'accord.  I will never learn how to cadge things from other sites.  But I urge you to go on your own treasure hunt to find the ones that match!

I love the light on her face and the modeling of her features, her pensive expression and how 3-d her elbows and the pine cones are.

This turning out to be "Art Week" at Passage Paradis (Mlle P.'s paintings in the previous post), here are a few nice things........The top one is by Fairfield Porter and posted by Nick earlier this week.  Do you know his blog?  Yes, I've mentioned it before and he has a very particular sensibility which I enjoy very much.

Nick was saying how much he liked the Fairfield Porter painting and how he thought (possibly because Porter is American and working about a half century later) he was somehow unfairly compared to Bonnard and Vuillard who are considered to be his "painting relations" (my expression).  I've heard those references before too - and in Porters defence and if it matters, it seems to me Peter Schjeldahl at the New Yorker likes Porter quite a bit but ANYWAY!  I told Nick that I was feeling a little more Matisse going on in that painting than the other two "Nabis".

And now you know why I feel that way.  What do you think?  You can almost see Porter working on his canvas and referring back to the Matisses to show him the way.  He even borrows Matisse's handling of painting to edge in and out of areas of the picture plane.  The books on the table?  A toss-up between the two Masters, Bonnard and Matisse.  But I think the Porter stands up very well to the Matisse paintings.  Sometimes you will put two artists side by side and the one will completely die and look meaningless and ridiculous next to the Master.

This is a wonderful color combination anyway.  (I mentioned to Nick that it was that peacock-ey blue that is so trendy in this moment.)  Matisse liked them so much he tried them at least these times and they creep into other paintings of the "odalisque" era 20-30's when I think he was looking at/talking to/and thinking about Pierre Bonnard's work quite alot.  Not that Bonnard actually used these colors together much.

So.  A Conversation About Painting.  What else better in the middle of our partially poor weather induced late winter doldrums.  Hope this brightens up your week!  (The consolations of art!)


  1. Yes! I see the comparison very clearly, and you're right, it seems much like a dialogue. Isn't that Matisse in the Art Institute? I know it well, like a childhood friend.

    The use of patterning in both, color pallette and yes, even paint application are very similar. But isn't it interesting how differently they use black linework? In Porter, it is only employed on secondary, background objects, whereas Matisse uses it to define and draw attention to his figure. Maybe this is why the Matisse figure is very much IN her interior space, whereas Porter's boy almost melts into the scene.

    Love them both, and the commentary. Excellent post!

  2. Ah,I see you are a truly literate and well-educated student of the art world. Nicely spotted. Wonderful post! Bring on the art commentary!

  3. Don't get me started Maia!

    Actually I AM so glad I did this post because when I come to it, it makes my blood pressure drop unbelievably. Thanks for the nice chat Nick Heywood!

  4. Matisse is one of my favorite artists.