Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Matisse Chapel

One of the ways I relax late at night, (such a night owl!), is to watch movies & lately I've been very drawn to art themes. Netflix is a great place to seek out titles I might not find otherwise. I came across ,"A Model for Matisse" & wanted to share it;

"This charming documentary explores the friendship between artist Henri Matisse and the woman who inspired him to create some of his best-loved works, Dominican nun Sister Jacques-Marie. The 83-year-old nun discusses her days as a model and muse for Matisse, including her role in what he considered his life's masterpiece: the paintings and stained-glass windows of the Chapel of the Rosary in the French Mediterranean village of Vence."

The Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence (Chapel of the Rosary), often referred to as the Matisse Chapel is a small chapel built for Dominican sisters that was built and decorated between 1949 and 1951. It houses a number of Matisse originals and was regarded by Matisse himself as his "masterpiece". Many regard it as one of the great religious structures of the 20th century.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Orchestra of Exiles

“The true artist does not create art as an end in itself; he creates art for human beings. Humanity is the goal.”
The bravery/rescue stories of World War II of the hell on earth Jews & many other unprotected groups faced, has been fairly well documented. Several historical documentaries & films have recorded the fall & rise of those persecuted, including gems like, 'No Place on Earth', 'The Lady in Number 6', 'The Reader', 'A Beautiful Life' & 'The Rape of Europa'.

Lately, with the D-Day Anniversary & having had parents in the Royal Air Force in England, I've
been taking a closer look at those events in history that prior to now literally caused me to throw up. I still cannot 'stomach' the more graphic photos of liberation, but there has been a deeper rumbling that didn't breach the surface until I watched 'Orchestra of Exiles'. It documents the life of the great Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman, who saved around a thousand Jews from the Holocaust by bringing many of Europe's leading musicians & their families to safety by forming the Palestine Philharmonic.

What has come to 'life' for me is this. THE ARTS in all it's varied forms, albeit written, musical, painted, danced, baked or privately remembered, in most ways have SURVIVED. Whole families may have been wiped out without heirs, or gays & gypsies annihilated, but the ART itself was & remains indestructible. Bombed, hidden, burned, debased or murdered, the deep memories & stories would not be driven out of our collective consciousness & that to me is a hopeful thing.

(I'll note here a story I read about in the newspaper over thirty years ago. A man was standing in a line in the room before his death. He had been shaven & numbered like a piece of garbage & was about to be thrown away. In the corner of this room he saw a broom & as he moved closer to the next door, he quietly stepped a few paces out of line & grasped the broom. Very slowly & methodically, he began sweeping up, until eventually he swept himself back out the door he had come in. Somehow he survived the camp & the liberation & was now living in New York with quite the tale to tell his grandchildren.)

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Use of Infrared Imagery Technology: An Ethical Question

I've already commented on 'Tim's Veneer' & the slight creepiness I felt about the process of trying to recreate a masterpiece, no matter what 'assistive technology' Vemeer may have chosen to use during his career. What WAS created were nearly photographic images that jumped from the canvas & added to the thrill of viewing his works. Did he 'cheat' somehow? Or was he just way ahead of his time?

It seems that more & more often we're being confronted with trying to 'prove' if a Michelangelo or a DaVinci are the 'real' things by measuring noses or digging up (Mona) Lisa's bones to assess her facial structure. The mystery or intrigue of an art piece is half the fun of viewing it, for me anyway.

So, now we have...."It's a mystery that is fueling new research about the 1901 painting created early in Picasso's career while he was working in Paris at the start of his distinctive blue period of melancholy subjects. Curators & conservators revealed their findings for the first time last week. Over the past five years, experts from the Phillips Collection, National Gallery of Art, Cornell University and Delaware's Winterthur Museum have developed a clearer image of the mystery picture under the surface. It is a portrait of an unknown man painted in a vertical composition by one of the 20th century's great artists."

Really? Experts have spent five years on this? Perhaps there was a simple reason why the painting was painted over. I would assume it was because Picasso found something newer to express, while never imagining that over a hundred years later someone would be checking out a portrait under a painting that wasn't worth enough to the artist to save, or at the very least, didn't intend for others to see. I'm an artist & I have abandoned, torn down or reused parts of assemblages because they didn't feel right to me, didn't quite represent what I was trying to get across, or were experiments & not meant to be finished. Maybe Picasso thought it was a crappy painting or it wasn't relative anymore. Or maybe he just painted over it.

So the question for me here is, is Infrared Imagery when used in this way, ethical or a possible infringement on privacy or perhaps even copyright? Do artists give up their rights upon death, or otherwise, for others to utilize newly created technologies for public consumption? Let's say I have a number of assemblages in my studio, some that have been shown in galleries because I wished for them to viewed, while others are sitting in the dust, waiting to be thrown out or remade. Should I have the right to decide whether or not the discarded are dragged out, scrutinized, or for that matter, sold because they are just sitting there collecting dust?

I doubt myself or my family will ever have to grapple with this dilemma, but there is something here that is leaving a bit of 'bad taste.'