Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Picasso (article) | Khan Academy
With a blockbuster show about the Matisse-Picasso relationship they could * learn—*paintings which in each case addressed issues that. The retrospective exhibition forced the young Picasso, Matisse, and many other . later, Picasso has begun to try to dissolve the figure/ground relationship. Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse by Nathan Gelgud, filling in backgrounds, relationships, gossip, and art history building to a portrait of.
It is an idyllic scene of reclining nudes, embracing lovers and carefree dancers.
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Nothing like it had ever been painted, even by Matisse. Picasso understood this at once and took it as a challenge. That is why, for example, Matisse is Matisse. It began as a tableau with a sailor surrounded by five prostitutes, all surprised by a student holding a skull entering stage right.
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It ended with just the women, their stares directed straight out at the viewer. As Picasso worked, he simplified, reducing the faces to crude masks, the bodies to fragmented fetishes, imbuing the canvas with a power both primitive and unimaginably new.
None of this came easily or quickly. As Picasso was struggling with his Demoiselles, he was jolted again by Matisse, who exhibited his shocking Blue Nude: Memory of Biskra below in Pach later gave this account: If he wants to make a design, let him make a design.
This is between the two. Then Picasso went to the dingy ethnographic museum in Paris, the Trocadero, with its collection of primitive artifacts. It smelled like a flea market, but it opened his eyes to the magic of masks and fetishes. All alone in that museum, surrounded by masks, Red Indian dolls, dummies covered with dust. It remains the most significant single twentieth-century painting.
The painter Georges Braque almost choked, Vollard recoiled, Leo Stein laughed and Picasso, frustrated and hurt, eventually took the canvas off its stretcher and put it aside without exhibiting it. Matisse wasted little time in painting an unflinching response—his Bathers with a Turtle.
Picasso is understanding it as decomposition, and Matisse is understanding it as composition. Both Picasso and Matisse had viewed a collection of Gauguin woodcuts inand his South Seas primitivism showed up in woodcuts they both made soon after. As French curator Baldassari comments, both Matisse and Picasso were looking at anything that would help them break with the past. They used images from erotic cinema meant for voyeurs, not painters.
The question of line, of composition, was secondary, although the distortion, the perversion of line, was very important to them. It was a game with form, with figuration. The question at the moment was how to leave the past. It was the question of ugliness.
It was said that Picasso hung the Matisse in a room where his friends threw fake darts at it. Matisse was shocked by it then, but his portrait of Marguerite was an exact mirror of it.
The painting was a sort of joke, a tribute to Picasso. A short time before the exchange, Baldassari explains, Matisse had been attacked in the press for a still life of his own. Picasso plunged into Cubism with both feet, collaborating in the beginning with Braque.
Baldassari says that Picasso was sick that summer and Matisse visited him often. And right after this, he became involved in exploring Cubism in his own painting.
But even in opposition, as in these two portraits, the dialogue between the two artists was clear.
Picasso, Portrait of Gertrude Stein
Sometimes, however, it was more subtle. Matisse had done the sets and costumes for a Diaghilev ballet a few years before, which irked Picasso when he heard about it. A balcony with a big red flowerpot falling all over it! The visual analogies are obvious: The Three Dancers, like the Demoiselles, was a kind of exorcism.
Why did Picasso pick on Matisse? Who else is there to pick on? Why pick on Matisse? A little bit because he really is greater than anybody else anyway. I mean, who do you engage? And you know, when you engage somebody else in that way, it means that you need it too. You need that engagement. And clearly Picasso felt as if he himself had gone through a kind of eclectic and formless decade. And so, the two of them did need each other. Each of them thought that the other was a giant.
It makes you stronger. In some ways, Picasso was bored, and he wanted Matisse back in the ring, and he wanted to find a way to get the old man out of his den.
It would be much more interesting.
And the dialogue continued for the next twenty-five years… Rick Brettell: All these younger artists are barking up trees that they no longer have to bark up. The exhibition deals with the mature phase in the history of two artists whom we are taught to think of as opposites. And it makes us realize that though they are in many ways opposites, one feeds the other. I see Matisse and Picasso that way a lot. They each wanted to dominate the other. And nobody wanted to win. I see them as being archetypal rivals, sort of friendly rivals.
Chess is a very interesting metaphor for explaining the relationship between two artists like Matisse and Picasso.