Tuesday, November 5, 2013


At the time people thought I had deliberately chosen a bad example of Matisse's work out of malice. This is quite untrue. I thought it was a key picture then and still do. Critics are always talking about this and that influence on Matisse's work. Well, the influence on Matisse when he painted this work was his children, who had just started to draw. Their naive drawings fascinated him and completely changed his style. Nobody realizes this, and yet it's one of the keys to Matisse.

Pablo Picasso

One of the books I'm reading now is Jonathan Fineberg's the Innocent Eye: Children's Art and the Modern Artist. It's got some great pictures and some illuminating new detail on how artists have learned from children, their own and others. Matisse, as mentioned above, was one. Fauvism, of which he was the grandaddy, had a lot to do with going color happy in a childlike way. And in the early 20th century Kandinsky and his then-girlfriend Gabriele Munter had a gallery where they actually exhibited children's paintings and drawings, alongside their own and their friends'. (This was before most people had refridgerators, as such.


susan said...

Picasso was often pleased to say that as a child he could paint like Raphael (and it's true) but that it took him years to learn to draw like a child. Not that his work was childlike since most children (unlike Picasso) don't have full hand/eye coordination or training. What they do have is boundless enthusiasm and the ability to delight in shapes and color.

Personally, I'd love to share some space with a Kandinsky but his daughter's work would likely be relegated to the refrigerator door.

Ben said...

Picasso himself also, of course, comes in for treatment in this book. He also liked to observe his kids as they drew, and in fact set aside space in his sketchbook for things children did. There's a great painting of his daughter Maya with one of her dolls.

The fridge? Ah well, gotta start somewhere.