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A Tale of Two Artists....

Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso
by

Melanie Campos

on 13 November 2013

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Transcript of A Tale of Two Artists....

Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso
A Tale of Two Artists...
Henri Emile Benoit Matisse
Growing in Fame
Matisse began to copy paintings, and after he recovered from his illness, he took drawing lessons while working in a law office. Much to the disappointment of his father, Henri decided to become an artist instead of a lawyer.
At 22, he began to study painting in Paris. He enjoyed copying the masterpieces in the museums.
Initially he painted still-lifes and landscapes in a traditional style.
Early Artistic Years
The Late 1890's
Matisse was the recognized leader of the art style known as Fauvism — a style that began around 1900 and continued just beyond 1910 and is characterized by its unusual use of bold and often illogical colors.
His paintings of this period are characterized by flat shapes and controlled lines.
In 1905, Matisse and a group of artists now known as "Fauves" exhibited together. The paintings expressed emotion with wild, often dissonant colors without regard for the subject's natural colors. Matisse showed Open Window and Woman with the Hat at this exhibit.
Fauvism
Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso
Growing in Fame
Born in Spain in 1881
He was the first son of José Ruiz Blasco (a painter and art teacher) and María Picasso López (from whom he took his professional name).
At the age of seven, Picasso's father helped him begin to paint. One year later, he finished his first oil rendering.
Picasso began to study art formally at the age of 11 and continued until he was about 16.
His formal art training ended in 1897 when he contracted scarlet fever and had to spend a great deal of time recuperating in the Spanish countryside.
A Changing Artist
Picasso as a Teen
In 1907, Picasso produced a painting unlike anything he or anyone else had ever painted before: Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, a depiction of five beige abstract figures distorted with sharp geometric features and patches of blues, greens, and grays.



In Cubist paintings, objects are broken apart and reassembled in an abstracted form, highlighting their composite geometric shapes and depicting the object from multiple viewpoints at once to create physics-defying, collage-like effects. Cubism shocked, appalled, and fascinated the art world.
Cubism
In Paris, he found dedicated lovers of his work in Gertrude and Leo Stein.
They often displayed his work in their salon during parties that occurred every Saturday night.
In the early 1900s, Matisse and his artwork became more and more popular.
Even as his fame rose, Matisse continued to study new types of art and gain influences from other parts of the world.
American writer and art connoisseur Gertrude Stein became a big fan of Matisse's work, and she and her brother bought many of his paintings to showcase during their routine parties.
Henri Matisse
Pablo Picasso
Born in Northern France in 1869
Father was a grain merchant and mother painted china and made hats
Was not encouraged to become an artist as he grew up
At 18, he went to law school in Paris
In 1889, Matisse returned home due to appendicitis and was bed-ridden for a year. It was during this year that he explored his artistic side.
When Pigasso Met Mootisse
In 1894, Henri Matisse and model Caroline Joblau had a daughter, Marguerite.
In 1896 and 1897, Matisse worked closely with Australian painter John Peter Russell. Russell introduced him to Impressionism and to the work of van Gogh.
Matisse's style and views on colors changed completely during this time.
Also in the late 1890's, Matisse was successfully exhibiting and selling his paintings in Paris.
In 1898, he married Amélie Parayre. Together they raised Marguerite and had two sons, Jean and Pierre.
In March 1906, Matisse's breakthrough masterpiece, Le Bonheur de Vivre, was on exhibit.
Also in March 1906, Gertrude Stein and her posse took Matisse to visit Picasso in Monmartre. The two hadn't met yet, but they were well aware of each other's work and progressions they had made in their careers. (Matisse was 37, and Picasso was 25)
Before they met, Picasso had already decided that if he wanted to be the number one artist in Paris, Matisse was the man to beat. He was ready to challenge Matisse to a lifelong duel.
Although the initial meeting was not especially friendly, a relationship of mutual respect and professional exchange eventually developed.
The Girl with Green Eyes
Blue Nude: Memory of Biskra
Woman with a Hat
In his early teen years, Pablo lost all desire to do schoolwork and instead spent the school days doodling in his notebook. He has noted that, "for being a bad student, they would send me to the 'cells' and I loved it when they sent me there, because I could take a pad of paper and draw nonstop."
At 14, he and his family moved to Barcelona and he immediately applied to the city's prestigious School of Fine Arts. Although the school typically only accepted students several years older than he, Picasso's entrance exam was so awesome that the school made an exception and admitted him immediately....but, once again, Picasso bucked at the strict format of school and began skipping class to roam the streets of Barcelona, sketching the city scenes he observed.
In 1897, a 16-year-old Picasso moved to Madrid to attend the Royal Academy of San Fernando. However, he again grew frustrated at the school's singular focus on classical subjects and techniques. True to form, he started skipping class to wander the city and paint what he observed: gypsies, beggars, and prostitutes.
In 1899, at the age of 18, Picasso moved back to Barcelona and starting hanging out in a cafe with a crowd of artists, intellectuals, anarchists, and radicals. It was during this time that he decided to break away from his classically trained methods and began a lifelong process of experimentation and innovation. A year later, he moved to Paris to open his own studio.
From 1901-1904, Picasso was in his "Blue Period." He was depressed over the death of a close friend, so he painted scenes of poverty, isolation, and anguish using almost exclusively blues and greens. Picasso's most famous paintings from the Blue Period include Blue Nude, La Vie, and The Old Guitarist, all three completed in 1903.



By 1905, Picasso had mostly overcome his depression and was crazy in love with a model named Fernande Olivier. This is when the Rose Period began, and he started painting with warmer colors like beiges, pinks, and reds. His most famous paintings from this time include Family at Saltimbanques (1905), Gertrude Stein (1905-1906) and Two Nudes (1906).
Head of a Sleeping Woman
Young Girl with a Flower Basket
The Initial Encounter
The two began to meet regularly and scrutinize each other's work. This often led to arguments and periods of silence between the artists, but they always returned to dialogue to further their understanding of one another.
"When we engage in dialogue about ideas, we are creating new
knowledge. The volley between two minds with mutual interest
isn't limited to sharing the known; when people engage in discourse, they are inventing new meaning, new interpretations that add a layer to earlier ideas" (p.197).
Le Bonheur de Vivre, 1906
Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, 1907
Woman with a Fan, 1908
The Italian Woman, 1916
They reacted to each other's work, adapted it to their own style, and created something new. They taunted and challenged one another, but, most importantly, they inspired one another. They met. They talked. They exchanged works of art. They understood each other deeply.
Still Life: Bust, Bowl, and Palette, 1932
Still Life with a Plaster Bust, 1916
In 1917, Matisse left Paris to work in a quieter place in Southern France. About 10 years later, his career started to go downhill, and it was hard for him to find inspiration. It's been said that Picasso's recreations of Matisse's paintings and the conversations they had are what kept him going. In fact, in 1940, Matisse painted The Dream, which was an undeniable reaction to Picasso's 1931 painting, Woman with Yellow Hair.
In 1941, Matisse suffered an intestinal infection after a surgery and was confined to a wheelchair and bed most of the time. He found it quite hard to work this way, but he still managed to keep creating art. During the time of his illness, Picasso looked after the paintings Matisse had in Paris and sometimes strapped his own recent work to the roof of his car and drove them to Matisse's house to have conversations about them.
Matisse stayed ill until his death in 1954. His most accomplished painting during his last years was Large Red Interior (1948). Picasso payed tribute to Matisse by responding with The Studio at La Californie in 1956.
Large Red Interior
The Studio at La Californie
Picasso continued painting and sculpting until he passed away in 1973.
How can we have conversations like Matisse and Picasso had that change the way we live, teach, and understand things?
"We must talk to each other as much as we can. When one of us dies, there will be some things the other will never be able to talk of with someone else." -Matisse to Picasso as he neared death
"We can turn over far more of the work of understanding to students, encouraging them to incorporate what they know and what they have closely observed into their daily dialogue. We can choose our words carefully, fully cognizant of the power they have to engender new thinking for our children. We can let go of the nagging voices in our own minds that tell us we may not be well-educated enough and gather students around us to talk with them about our reactions to the light coming from a painting or the way a melody made us cry" (p. 200).
"In learning, it is so often discourse that leads to understanding. We teachers understand that the more you talk with students about a concept, the better you understand it yourself. Their questions and insights influence how you explain the ideas. Students contribute new perspectives that forever change your point of view. The spirit of revision and rethinking characterized the conversations between Matisse and Picasso, and it continued even after Matisse's death in 1954, just as one child's comments can shape the way we teach long after the child has moved on" (p. 199).
When we engage in rigorous discourse about ideas, we find that we have more to say than we originally thought. When we consider the perspectives and opinions of ourselves and challenge them until we understand the perspectives and opinions of others, we find new understanding in our ways of thinking.
Get out your Keene book and flip to page 210. Read through Figure 8.2 and choose at least one thing that you currently do in your classroom that you're proud of AND choose at least one thing that you plan on implementing after our discussions tonight.
"Researchers have calculated that teachers engage in literally thousands of oral interactions with children every day. What we say and the way we say it shapes children's understanding more than any other pedagogical tool we use. Yet we often find ourselves on automatic pilot when talking to children. Are we mindful of our language? Do we take the time to formulate words in a powerful and precise manner? Do we speak in a way that reveals our trust that they will respond at high levels? Do we discuss ways in which we choose words carefully, why we love words, and the power words hold? Are our interactions as potent as they should be if we want to encourage more consistent intellectual growth? By fine-tuning our oral language interactions with children, we can encourage them to live the life of the mind every day" (p. 208).
What does Keene have to say about conversations and understanding?
In essence, Picasso and Matisse embodied so many of the things Keene talks about when she defines how we learn to understand. They were both, like Van Gogh, fervent and passionate learners. They used silence and thought deeply much like Edward Hopper. Like Reynolds Price, at times, they struggled to find insight and found ways to muddle through their messes. They were driven to explore different genres of art in order to understand how they were related to one another, much like the thinkers and artists of the Renaissance. Like Pablo Neruda, they were constantly assessing their work and revising their thinking to incorporate new knowledge and opinions. They lived to understand!
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