This fall we’re going to be seeing a LOT of Picasso on view in New York with a slew of shows dedicated to the master. At the Met we get the debut of Leonard Lauder’s Cubism collection at with his MAJOR gift of 33 pieces by Picasso (plus 17 by Braque, 14 by Léger, and 14 by Juan Gris, valued at over $1 billion)—that tells the story of the breakthrough that modernized the 20th century painting. Two of the city’s biggest galleries, Pace and Gagosian, are also going head-to-head with a pair of exhibits that look at different aspects of Picasso’s massive output. Pace probes the later works he made under the spell of his last wife in Picasso & Jacqueline: The Evolution of Style. The Gagosian show, Picasso and the Camera, the fifth curated by biographer and expert John Richardson, will survey his relationship with photography. It will be particularly useful as a companion to the Met exhibit, given Cubism’s rejection of the world seen through the camera’s lens in favor of the artist's internal truths.
Matisse at MoMA
I saw the Matisse show at the Tate in May where it was the most popular show in its history drawing in over half a million visitors. Now, virtually the same show (it's been expanded a bit) has now traveled to the states and is in NYC at MoMA. You know, the story goes, when ill health prevented Matisse from painting, he began to cut into painted paper with scissors to make drafts for a number of commissions. He wrote that it was “like being given a second life”. Soon, Matisse chose cut-outs over painting: he had invented a new medium. To see these snowflowers, dancers, circus scenes and a his famous abstracted snail (below), in this new exhibition. These 120 works, made between ’36 and ’54, have come from collections around the world to be seen together.
Nearly everyone has seen this work but, as the cliché goes, unless you see work in person, you haven’t seen it at ALL. Of course, they reproduce well, and the saturated color is SO pleasing and suited to offset printing, but truly, the scale and masterful technique is hidden from view in print. His “drawing with scissors” is like no one ever had. Assistants painted sheets of paper in the MOST beautiful colors and after cutting by the master, they were pinning them to his studio walls. They have influenced countless artists. In fact, this is the reason I think it’s now so hard to get the full impact of the work – his cut-outs made have been so widely imitated in art school’s and by magazine and book illustrators for the past 70 years, that they have nearly sucked out all of the life and innovation out the work when reproduced. Almost. Until you see the real deal. Amazing that something so two dimensional has been rendered so full of the joy of life that Matisse transmitted.
"Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs opens today and runs through February 8, 2015