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Artist in Profile (Apr ’13): Picasso and Matisse

Artist in Profile (Apr ’13): Picasso and Matisse

Drawn Chorus ExhibitionAt the beginning of each month we post articles profiling great artists. This month we pay homage to Picasso and Matisse to coincide with a collaborative exhibition between two members of deepspaceworks.

Janie Ranger and Su Billington are exhibiting collaborative works over the next two months at The Gallery of Coffee and Co, 7 Montpellier Terrace, Cheltenham. The ‘Drawn Chorus’ exhibition is on from now until 31st May. We hope you will come along and enjoy the exhibits.

Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse were already challenging each other artistically when introduced by Gertrude in 1906. This challenge of opposing views and styles played out until the death of Matisse and beyond. The relationship between Picasso and Matisse is one of the art world’s most intriguing. The rivalry which in ways was also a secretly a partnership gave illumination to each artists work.

The Artists – Picasso and Matisse

Le Bonheur de vivre, or The Joy of Life
Matisse’s ‘Le Bonheur de vivre’ – nothing like it had been painted before. Picasso recognised this and, not wanting to be outshone, set about work on his most ambitious painting, below.
Matisse emphatically stated he was a man of northern France while Picasso was very much a man of Southern Spain. There was an almost magnetic pull between the two of them and they constantly shape shifted between different roles of follower and leader, anti-hero and hero and giver and taker.

Matisse was older than Picasso born in 1869, the year the Suez Canal was about to change everything and Tolstoy completed War and Peace.

Matisse died in 1954 and lived through a turbulent century of human existence and he painted and sketched his way through his life with subject matter of beauty. Unlike other modernists and Picasso in particular, his subjects were almost an antidote to the traumatic events of the century and possibly his way of retaining a view to a past golden age.

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon
Picasso’s ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’
Picasso was born in 1881 12 years later than Matisse in Malaga southern Spain. Taught by his painter father, he was a prodigy and moved to Paris aged 19. He was always outside the system in his thinking believing beauty as taught by art masters was a deceptive sham. His own phosphorescence was to shock and divide the art world.

The Relationship

Picasso and Matisse had a respectful but fractious relationship but both united in the thought that they were the world’s greatest artists. Matisse was a master of colour and try as Picasso might he could not excel over him but his efforts improved his colour dramatically. Equally, Matisse inspired by Picasso’s outstanding skills as a draughtsman worked incredibly hard on his own drawing skills. They fed off each other in this collaboration of harmonious, yet turbulent spirit.

Many art critics have a belief that Picasso and Matisse painted for one another and became quite dependent on each other. Coded messages are said to be incorporated within their work. The other’s genius captivated the two men and they fed off the views, ideas, and techniques of the other – an artistic mutual admiration society where they would exchange works of art with each other.

Picasso and MatisseOne such exchange of work resulted in Picasso giving Matisse the portrait of Dora Maar, and in return received Seated Young Woman in a Persian Dress. Dora Maar has all the anguish and horror that was beyond the scope of Matisse’s thinking while Seated Young Woman in a Persian Dress is the purity, innocence, and beauty that eluded Picasso. Matisse said to Picasso ‘We must talk to each other as much as we can. When one of us dies, there will be things the other will never be able to talk about with anyone else.’ It is a poignant quote as it reveals the dynamic of the two artist’s relationship.

Matisse considered drawing an intimate expression. The execution whether whatever the medium, varied by subject and circumstances. His favourite subjects were evocative and erotic usually the female either nude or a facial drawing. He spent some time abroad and captured the real and imagined worlds of coral reefs, lagoons, and women of the Caribbean and Oceania. Matisse often made quick drawings that captured the emotion and form of his chosen subject. He took inspiration from his children’s drawings that influenced his style.

Picasso who is considered the greatest draughtsman of the last century produced drawings with a clear development over a 30-year period. He used the radical new styles of cubism and used drawing as a means of discovery in his multi faceted art which connects him distinctly with the grand tradition of drawing by European Old Masters.