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Matisse all time favourite

Comparing artists of different eras is about as productive as comparing sports stars.

The vagaries of fashion and that moveable feast that is reputation makes the whole process difficult if not unreliable.

In this Me Too age female painters are generously viewed.

Picasso’s reputation as the genius of 20th century art comes under threat as he treated his women so badly and one of them Dora Marr may have played a bigger role in Guernica than given credit.

However most critics and art historians would regard Picasso and Henri Matisse as the foremost artists of the last century.

Whilst recognising Picasso as the person who broke the rules of art, if I had to choose one for my wall it would be Matisse.

I so admire him as a colourist.

Although he  never initiated a movement like cubism, he was a fauvist and highly influenced by African and Japanese art.

As a frequent visitor – as was Matisse – to Nice his interior/exterior studies with the azure Med in the background exactly represent that area.

His portraits do not have the angular and geometric anger of Picasso, his paintwork more vivacious and life-affirming.

If I am suggesting they were rivals this would be wrong. They were great friends, often walked together, suggested ideas and during the war Matisse entrusted his body of work to Picasso.

Both remained in that war in Vichy France and both moved south. Matisse stayed in the Beau Rivage Hotel in Nice near the flower market and then in the hills of Nice at the Hotel Regina in Cimiez where the disappointing Matisse museum is to be found.

After a miraculous recovery from duodenal cancer he moved to Vence and engaged the services of Monique Bourgeois as carer who became a nun.

Matisse’s Chapel at Vence at the Dominican convent of Borgeois is brilliant for its simplicity.

A day spent there and at the Maeght Foundation followed by lunch at the Colombe d’Or with its fine collection is my idea of heaven.

In the meantime of ‘stay at home’ I was able to pass a marvellous couple of hours on my balcony appreciating Matisse in 50 Works by John Cauman.

About Alice Mansfield

A graduate of the Slade, Alice has painted and written about art all her life. With her children now having now grown up and departed the nest, she recently took up sculpture. More Posts

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