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Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse: Balance of Art

Henri Matisse: sitting in studio

“What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject-matter, an art which could be for every mental worker, for the businessman as well as the man of letters, for example, a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.” -Henri Matisse

Synopsis:

“Henri Matisse is widely regarded as the greatest colorist of the twentieth century and as a rival to Pablo Picasso in the importance of his innovations. He emerged as a Post-Impressionist, and first achieved prominence as the leader of the French movement Fauvism. Although interested in Cubism, he rejected it, and instead sought to use color as the foundation for expressive, decorative, and often monumental paintings. As he once controversially wrote, he sought to create an art that would be “a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair.” Still life and the nude remained favorite subjects throughout his career; North Africa was also an important inspiration, and, towards the end of his life, he made an important contribution to collage with a series of works using cut-out shapes of color. He is also highly regarded as a sculptor.

Key Ideas:

“Matisse used pure colors and the white of exposed canvas to create a light-filled atmosphere in his Fauve paintings. Rather than using modeling or shading to lend volume and structure to his pictures, Matisse used contrasting areas of pure, unmodulated color. These ideas continued to be important to him throughout his career.

“His art was important in endorsing the value of decoration in modern art. However, although he is popularly regarded as a painter devoted to pleasure and contentment, his use of color and pattern is often deliberately disorientating and unsettling.
Matisse was heavily influenced by art from other cultures. Having seen several exhibitions of Asian art, and having traveled to North Africa, he incorporated some of the decorative qualities of Islamic art, the angularity of African sculpture, and the flatness of Japanese prints into his own style.

“Matisse once declared that he wanted his art to be one “of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter,” and this aspiration was an important influence on some, such as Clement Greenberg, who looked to art to provide shelter from the disorientation of the modern world.

“The human figure was central to Matisse’s work both in sculpture and painting. Its importance for his Fauvist work reflects his feeling that the subject had been neglected in Impressionism, and it continued to be important to him. At times he fragmented the figure harshly, at other times he treated it almost as a curvilinear, decorative element. Some of his work reflects the mood and personality of his models, but more often he used them merely as vehicles for his own feelings, reducing them to ciphers in his monumental designs.” -TheArtStory.org

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Creative Relationships

Mark Twain & Nikola Tesla

“It is wiser to find out than to suppose.” -Mark Twain

“Mark Twain in Nikola Tesla’s apartment, New York 1894 The high-voltage current is being passed through the human body to bring the lamp to incandescence. Tesla’s friend, Mark Twain, is holding the loop above the resonating coil. Tesla is in the background. Originally published as part of an article by T.C. Martin called “Tesla’s Oscillator and Other Inventions” that appeared in the Century Magazine (April 1895)”

“When Tesla returned from Colorado Springs to New York, he wrote a sensational article for Century Magazine. In this detailed, futuristic vision he described a means of tapping the sun’s energy with an antenna. He suggested that it would be possible to control the weather with electrical energy. He predicted machines that would make war an impossibility. And he proposed a global system of wireless communications. To most people the ideas were almost incomprehensible, but Tesla was a man who could not be underestimated.

“The article caught the attention of one of the world’s most powerful men, J. P. Morgan. A frequent guest in Morgan’s home, Tesla proposed a scheme that must have sounded like science fiction: a “world system” of wireless communications to relay telephone messages across the ocean; to broadcast news, music, stock market reports, private messages, secure military communications, and even pictures to any part of the world. “When wireless is fully applied the earth will be converted into a huge brain, capable of response in every one of its parts,” Tesla told Morgan.

“Morgan offered Tesla $150,000 to build a transmission tower and power plant. A more realistic sum would have been $1,000,000, but Tesla took what was available and went to work immediately. In spite of what he told his investor, Tesla’s actual plan was to make a large-scale demonstration of electrical power transmission without wires. This turned out to be a fatal mistake.

“For his new construction project, Tesla acquired land on the cliffs of Long Island Sound. The site was called Wardenclyffe. By 1901 the Wardenclyffe project was under construction, the most challenging task being the erection of an enormous tower, rising 187 feet in the air and supporting on its top a fifty-five-ton sphere made of steel. Beneath the tower, a well-like shaft plunged 120 feet into the ground. Sixteen iron pipes were driven three hundred feet deeper so that currents could pass through them and seize hold of the earth. “In this system that I have invented,” Tesla explained, “it is necessary for the machine to get a grip of the earth, otherwise it cannot shake the earth. It has to have a grip… so that the whole of this globe can quiver.” -PBS.org

 

Creative Relationships Marc Chagall Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso & Marc Chagall

“What a genius, that Picasso. It is a pity he doesn’t paint.” -Marc Chagall

“Picasso and Marc Chagall, two of the greatest painters of the last century, were friends until a dinner at Chagall’s place in 1964. “When are you going back to Russia?” Picasso asked his host. They were both expatriots living in France. Chagall was Russian and Picasso was Spanish. “After you,” said Chagall with a smile. “I hear you are greatly loved there [Picasso was a Communist] but not your work. You try to make it there and I’ll wait and see how you do.”

Picasso didn’t like that answer much. It was after dinner, he was feeling his wine, and his guard was down. “I guess with you it’s a question of business,” he told Chagall. “You won’t go unless there’s money in it.”

Francoise Gilot, who was at the table, says Chagall grinned at that remark but burned inside ever after. That was the end of the friendship.

Both those Titans had severe commercial temptations in old age. Each suspected or believed the other was a sinner.” –PabloPicasso.org

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Patron of the Arts- Creativity & Inspiration Crown

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol & the Pop Art of Celebrity

“In the future, everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes.” -Andy Warhol

Celebrity & PopArt:

“The growing popularity of television in American homes in the late 1950s and early 1960s fed a culture of celebrity-worship across the United States. Now able to view their favorite actors, musicians, athletes, and politicians from the comfort of their living rooms, the public became captivated by people who represented the American dream of money, glamour, and success.

“Pop artists seized on the culture of celebrity worship, portraying cultural icons and political figures from a range of media. They embraced, and at times slyly critiqued, this media-saturated culture, employing the faces of Hollywood actors, musicians, notorious criminals, politicians—and the tabloid stories surrounding them—as sources of imagery and reflections of the changing culture.” -MOMA

Capturing Celebrity:

“Warhol loved to paint portraits of the rich and famous. When most people think of Andy Warhol, they think of his portrait of Marilyn Monroe. Warhol painted Marilyn Monroe’s portrait after Monroe had overdosed on barbiturates and died. Warhol became fascinated by the very idea of figures such Monroe, with a glamorous lifestyle and an almost mythical status as a Hollywood icon, and wanted to portray her as a sex goddess and a consumer item to be mass produced. Warhol also enjoyed the carefree parties and lifestyle of rock stars. He painted ten portraits of Mick Jagger and several portraits of Elvis Presley. It’s surprising to note that Warhol also noticed Canadian celebrities who had never stepped foot in The Factory. In 1984, he painted a portrait of Wayne Gretzky at the peak of his stardom. Although Warhol wasn’t a hockey fan, he admired Gretzky for being one of Canada’s biggest celebrities, noting that that Gretzky is ‘more than a hockey player, he’s an entertainer.” -TheCultureTrip.com

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