12 April 2013

Picasso et Matisse

I have always loved the Matisse portrait of Marguerite. I only discovered the Picasso recently in a book. As they sit in different corners of my desktop I was suddenly struck by their similarity. What that is, I am not sure except for the obvious color harmony of magenta, and maybe, a disguised emerald green to create the blacks in both paintings. Both portraits of young women, one obediently posing for her father, the other in that feminine activity of having her hair brushed. 
Both gaze out towards the viewer but not quite on center. Both possess a kind of natural unity in the picture frame as if to say "No big deal, just me". There is nothing grand or ostentatious in their bearing, they are not  presented as being beautiful. They just are.

I believe that they are roughly about the same size. And the dates? Margueritte was done between 1906-1907. The Picasso, maybe late 1930's but not having studied Picasso I can only rely upon images gleaned from various websites. I found similar portraits of both Dora Maar and Nusch Eluard done in 1938 so its probably not crazy to say around 1937-1939.

I like them both very much. There is a simplicity and a freshness in them which creates an intimacy upon immediate inspection.
Both were done in one seance most certainly. 

I was speaking with an artist-friend the other day and lamenting this terrible obsession which so many artists have of working from photographs. (It makes me crazy.) But because it is such an accepted way of working in this contemporary art world I found it difficult to mount an attack on it to my friend. And yet, personally speaking, I find it ridiculous for a painter to work from a photograph. (Blasphemous indeed! The intolerant in me wants to shout out from the top of the museum) 
And I would be happy to eat my words if just one person could cite an example of a really great painting  done from a photograph.

In the end my argument had to resort to the fact that only from working from a real live person could one achieve a veritable image precisely because the mistakes inchoate are proof of the genuine experience and which result into an original and one of a kind image. One could say that the 'mistakes' in the making of a portrait are in fact 'decisions' in a most vital and integral way as they allow for this originality to subconsciously manifest through the artist's hand. I cannot believe that this be can achieved from working from a photograph. To paint a portrait is such a deeply personal experience implying so much of what the Japanese call Wabi-Sabithe necessity of an inherent imperfection in a work of art, and the inherent transitory nature of all things. 

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