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Matisse’s ‘The Red Studio’ ignites a stunning display at MoMA

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Painting was ecstasy for Henri Matisse. The color worked on his eyes and intestines, becoming like the first crush of self-renewal. But around 1905-1917 he was in Luck. His experiments on the canvas broke the norm so radically that he caused so many ridicule that he suffered from anxiety, was remedied by insomnia, and was nearly paralyzed by suspicion. ..

Still he had no power to stop. His relationship with the painting was similar to the relationship of a farewell lover with his domineering partner: the joy is confusing, but the cost to a person’s calm is steep.

Baltimore loves Mathis. That’s another reason to love Baltimore.

Apparently, Matisse stiffened by adopting a calm, spectacled façade. Rejecting the apparent bohemianism of rival Pablo Picasso, he founded a private art school and used his professional eloquence to win a small number of foreign collectors (all in France gave him). They had to be foreigners because they thought they were madmen), and established his family in a sturdy and elegant home on the outskirts of Paris.

In his art, he transformed from a “Fauvism” or a beast into an unlikely classicist, softening his fierce emotions with stunning drawings and powerful compositions. He succeeded in regaining control. But his success only facilitated more radical color experiments. He seemed to be a fallen man all night, wearing his suit and scrubbing well the next morning, and abandoning all restraints again the next night.

In this context, consider Matisse’s 1911 masterpiece, The Red Studio. Approximately 6 feet high and 7 feet wide, this work is the subject of a small dream-inspiring exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

“The Red Studio” is a depiction of Matisse’s studio, with six pieces of furniture, glass, vases, cutouts of nastatium plants, some blue pencils, and 11 identifiable artwork by (absent artist) Matisse. These paintings, sculptures and pottery are all in different colors. However, the painter soaked the rest of the space (walls, floors, furniture) with Venetian red.

Its effect-know if you’ve seen it-is overwhelming: it’s the optical sensory equivalent of the five alarm fires.

Mathis has come to understand what looks obvious today (mainly thanks to him). Its color intensity is a function of size. A red square foot (in other words) is redder than the same red square inch. If you compare this with the Impressionists and Neo-Impressionists, which were the movements of the avant-garde just before, the colors are getting smaller and smaller, and you can see the depth of the Matisse revolution.In fact, without “The Red Studio,” we might not have From Mark Rothko and Lee Krasner to Ellsworth Kelly and Barnett Newman, one of the most compelling post-war abstract colorists of the last century.

But of course, “The Red Studio” stops short of abstraction. And, like its whole, unrefracted red does not completely flatten the space (perspective lines are drawn as a reserve and remain to suggest depth), the studio. The colored pieces placed around the divide the monochrome in exquisite harmony. Their dispersal creates a circularity, a spread of joy that Mattis has spent the rest of his career trying to discover new ways to replicate, and encourages you to keep roving your eyes.

The idea behind this amazing two-room show is simple. (Organized by Antemkin of MoMA and Dortheagesen of the National Gallery of Denmark, we will travel to Copenhagen in October.) In one gallery, the actual work depicted in “The Red Studio” is borrowed from the owner (1). Except for one, Mattis considered it unfinished and asked to destroy it after his death (“Large Nude”). They are placed around the MoMA gallery in a manner similar to that in a painting, as if we, the audience, were standing in the studio.

The second gallery tells an amazing story of the origin and fate of the painting.

When Mathis painted “The Red Studio,” he was an excited new homeowner. He has recently turned 40. He had his wife and three children (one from a previous relationship). He was known as an avant-garde leader. Still, all of his career was often forced to work in a cramped studio connected to the living space of his family.

Now, finally, he was able to move to the suburbs and build his own, modern, independent studio. He paid the company to build a raised, square, removable studio on the edge of a garden path. The architectural drawings in the exhibition catalog show a 1,076-square-foot structure with a sloping hut-like roof. When we realize that both these drawings and Matisse’s paintings are two-dimensional representations of the same thing, it causes a delicious kind of cognitive dissonance.

“The Red Studio” was a request from wealthy Russian textile merchant Sergei Iwakin. At the age of 17, after the death of his eldest son, Schukin turned from a collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings to a radical new work by Matisse and Picasso. Shortly thereafter, he lost his wife to cancer and her brother to suicide.

Schukin was restored by sadness. But before her wife died, he promised her that she would turn her home in Moscow into a public museum. And by 1908, Trubetzkoy Palace was quickly filled with Matisse’s most ambitious paintings, as it was called. The largest of these Matisses is called “decoration”. This was because he was asked to fill a particular space and because he was developing sophisticated ideas about the relationship between interior spaces based on early paintings such as “Red Harmony”. , Artistic expression and color. He essentially redefined the word “decoration”.

In 1911, the year of the “Red Studio”, Matisse visited Schukin, Russia, to complete the decoration of a small, obscure room inside the palace. “The Red Studio” was to decorate one wall. Two masterpieces, “Pink Studio” and “Painters Family”, which were already in Trubetzkoy, closed the exhibition. But for some reason, Schukin decided that the “red studio” wasn’t for him, so Matisse never sent it to Russia.

This rejected painting was debilitated in the studio where it was painted until it appeared in one of the most influential exhibitions of the 20th century, the 2nd Post-Impressionist Exhibition in London in 1912. I wasn’t loved. Then, in 1913, he visited New York, Chicago, and Boston, where he was exhibited at scandalous international contemporary art exhibitions and armory shows.

But for the next 12 years, “The Red Studio” was invisible and unsold. The French audience first saw it in 1926 and was purchased shortly thereafter by the Englishman David Tennant. The tenant was the founder of the Gargoyle Club aristocrat in the heart of London’s Soho district. Nightclubs have attracted attractive customers of artists, writers, celebrities and aristocrats. When it opened in 1925, Virginia Woolf, Noel Coward, Somerset Maugham, and Nancy Cunard participated as guests. Subsequent habits included Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud.

The interior of the club was designed by Mathew Prichard, a disciple of Mathew, taking into account the views of Georges du Tuit, a Byzantine and contemporary art scholar who recently married Mattis’ beloved daughter Marguerite. Both men played a role in the purchase of “The Red Studio,” where the tenant was set up in the club’s ballroom. The frame of this studio is in contact with the coffer ceiling. Mattis himself covered the walls of the ballroom with thousands of tiny squares of slightly imperfect glass, creating an extraordinary, almost cubist effect, glittering when dancing, flirting, and discussing club member reflexes. I proposed to disassemble it into a kaleidoscope-like facet.

The contrast between the exhibition of “The Red Studio” at the Gargoyle Club and the subsequent exhibition at the white-walled sanctuary of MoMA purchased at the end of 1948 is amazing. I love the ideas it suggests. — Artwork has its own ideal lifespan. They emerge from the maternity ward (studio), go through puberty (nightclubs), hormonally wobble, and settle into a prominent old age (museum).

But “red studio”? please look. It may have achieved excellence, but it never looks old.

Mattis: Red Studio Until September 10th at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. moma.org..

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