Page 14 - Studio International - July 1966
P. 14

Matisse and subject matter / continued

     blue, Matisse came closest to the sort of   patterning in the background, might have   it has no less strength or vitality than
     technical treatment associated at the time   suggested an unnecessarily pretty solution.   another great painting of a woman, which
     more with poster design than with painting.   Matisse had counteracted any such   represents the opposite extreme—De
     He abandoned shading altogether in 1935,   possibility by using distortion. Although it   Kooning's Woman and bicycle. This stark
     and this work painted two years later    is obvious that all forms are transmuted   and violent figure was the result of
     represents a further development in this   or distorted to a certain degree, the painter   rapidly-grasped images of women passing
     direction, although the first study for it   transformed both hands of the figure into   through or appearing momentarily in a
     was far more naturalistic, with far fewer   extremely exaggerated shapes, and     room. De Kooning's woman—powerful,
     distortions and the figure placed to the   particularly the right hand holding black   huge, aggressive, even tragicomic, is no
     right of the canvas. It was not unusual for   and white beads which has no more grace   less than a collage of impressions and
     Matisse to start with a more realistic study   than an oddly-placed bunch of bananas.   trophies like the toothy grin, originally
     of the subject and through as many as    This strange and powerful caricature of a   cut out of a glossy magazine and eventually
     perhaps twenty versions reach a solution   hand is emphasized further by being placed   depicted in oil paint. Perhaps it is helpful
     that gave expression more permanently    in the centre of the picture and directly   to juxtapose Matisse's epitome of serenity
     and accurately to his sensation and intent.   in line with the calm and implacable   with something as violent as De Kooning's
     The simplification and the symmetrical   head. It becomes the compelling focus of   effigy of womanhood in order to realize
     ordering of curves, large areas of       the composition.                         and appreciate the power of its impact
     saturated colour repeated in different    Despite the formal ordering and         and its extraordinary intensity. q
     parts of the picture, and the tile-like    extraordinary delicacy of this painting

     Obituaries                               Ludwig Meidner                            An exhibition entitled Arlington One: Festival of Visual
                                              Towards the end of March Ludwig Meidner died at the   and Sound Poetry  is being opened at Arlington Mill,
     Jean Arp                                 age of 83 in Darmstadt, Germany. Meidner was little   Bibury, near Cirencester, on July 23 by Hans Jandl.
     The sculptor, painter, poet Jean Arp (the two names   known in England even though he lived,  almost four-
     suggest a Franco-German cultural tradition and his   teen years here. In America he was often described   A connexion between art-galleries and bookshops is
     place of birth—Strasbourg), who died in June at the   as the most typical of all the German Expressionists.   traditional abroad, and used to be traditional in
     age of 80, made one of the most profound single con-  Meidner was born in a small Silesian town which, as   England. It is good to see it being revived by a new
     tributions to twentieth-century art. He is probably the   he put it, had never produced any poet, painter, or   bookshop, Indica, in Mason's Yard, Duke Street, St
     sole artist to have had the distinction of having been   playwright. He went to the Academy in Breslau and   James. Their opening show, Indications,  consisted
     a member of four of the most important European art   moved to Berlin in 1905 where he made a poor living   largely of works by well-known kinetic artists, in-
     movements (Blaue Reiter, Der Sturm, Dada, and   doing fashion drawings and illustration. He travelled   cluding Soto and Takis.
     Surrealism) although he always kept a measure of   to Paris where he came under the influence of Manet
     detachment in his activities. His work in the field of   and the Post-Impressionists and made friends with
     art was based on two fundamental notions, i.e. that   Modigliani. In 1907 he returned to Berlin and in 1912
     illusionistic art is a substitute for nature and therefore   helped found a group of painters known as  Die
     an imitation and, secondly, that nature's creative   Pathetiker,  which exhibited at the Gallery of  Der
     force, as a dynamic, is to be taken as an example.   Sturm and which was thoroughly Expressionist in its
      Amongst his greatest works are the sculptures   ideas. Meidner himself at this time was painting a
     which he called  Concretions,  which bear a strong   series of cataclysms, distorting and compressing his
     relationship to the human figure and are the result of   forms and laying on the paint in thick impastos.
     what Arp himself called a natural process of con-  In August 1939 he fled from Germany, where the
     densation and solidification of something that has   Nazis had condemned his work as 'degenerate',
     grown like a plant, animal, or man.      removed pictures by him from public collections, and
                                              had forbidden him to paint. He came to England
     Hans Purrmann                            where, after being interned for one year, he stayed
     On April 17 Hans Purrmann died in Basle at the age   until 1953. Friends of Meidner say that he was un-
     of 86. One of the most considerable German artists of   happy in London at first although his wife liked the
     recent times, Purrmann was also one of the last   English way of life very much. As Meidner grew
     painters to have had connexions with Matisse's school   slowly to understand England and to feel at home
     in Paris.                                here, so his wife began to long for Germany once
      Born in Speyer in 1880, Purrmann studied under   again. They returned and finally settled in Darmstadt,
     Franz von Stuck at the Munich Academy and in 1906   where Kasimir Edschmidt, one of the founders of
     moved to Paris. Here he met Matisse and came under   literary Expressionism, still lives.
     his influence. They became friends and Purrmann   Meidner died after a long period of illness. He was  ' Typographic atrocities'
     organized and helped to found Matisse's school. In   still painting in his old style, marred perhaps by a   The practice of printing a photo-engraved block in a
     her autobiography Gertrude Stein has a great deal   little mannerism, until he was taken to hospital.  vivid coloured ink appears to be growing. The conven-
     to say about Purrmann, most of it extremely uncompli-  Meidner once wrote of his intentions in the following   tion of black-and-white we all admit, certain shades of
     mentary, but she does admit that it was Purrmann's   way: 'The greatest aim of my generation, its most   red and brown have also some claim to exist; but to
     energy and talents that made the school a success   burning desire, its most fervent wish, is nothing more   take an ordinary 'process'-block from a painting and
     and that he was by far its most dominant personality.   than to achieve a way of creating from out of one's   print it in emerald green, magenta, violet, or blue, is
     Purrmann returned to Germany in 1916, but left again   inner being, to retrieve all the faces and melodies   nothing short of an outrage upon taste, and if the
     after the Nazis had come to power and had forbidden   which whisper in the human soul, deep within it,   picture be not beneath it, an insult to the artist.
     public exhibition of his work on the grounds that it   dark, unrecognisable and subconscious... We do not
     was 'degenerate'.                        aim to reflect the superficial aspects of Nature directly   On collecting posters
     Jedlicka, the Swiss art historian, visited Matisse as   and truthfully but rather to mirror that secret part of   To collect English posters would be mere childishness
     he lay on his death-bed in Nice in 1952. Jedlicka   the spirit, the unity which we feel with the primaeval   comparable to the treasuring up of postmarks ... If
     wanted information about Matisse, of course, but   forces of the earth.'          there be a grain of truth in Mr Ruskin's dictum that
     instead the old man spoke constantly of Purrmann                                  advertising is nowadays the only living art, it is time
     and referred to 'Purrmann's modesty, unseemly for a                               we produced some example in England which would
     painter'. Matisse stressed that Purrmann was the only                             at least escape universal derision.
     German painter whom Matisse recognized.                                              from The Collecting of Posters by Charles T. J. Hiatt
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