What Are You Looking At?: The Surprising, Shocking, and Sometimes Strange Story of 150 Years of Modern Art

By Will Gompertz

Within the culture of Eats, Shoots & Leaves, paintings background with a feeling of humor

Every yr, hundreds of thousands of museum and gallery viewers think about the trendy artwork on demonstrate and secretly ask themselves, "Is this art?" A former director at London's Tate Gallery and now the BBC arts editor, Will Gompertz made it his project to convey sleek art's interesting historical past alive for everybody, explaining why an unmade mattress or a pickled shark may be art—and why a five-year-old could not quite do it. wealthy with outstanding stories and anecdotes, What Are You having a look At? entertains because it hands readers with the information to really comprehend and revel in what it's they’re .

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It's a hugely person piece that sees Matisse entering his leading, not just as a superb colorist, but in addition as a grasp of layout. the convenience, the beauty and the move of the strains he paints are a pleasure for the attention to track. His skill to make an easy mark on canvas that makes an instantaneous and remarkable reference to the viewer elevates him from the nice painter to the good artist. The balancing impression of his contrasting shapes, and the coherence of his compositions, were matched through only a few artists within the heritage of portray. It simply so occurs that a type of infrequent skills who may perhaps stand comparability used to be dwelling in Paris at the exact same time. Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) used to be a precocious younger Spanish artist who had speedy made his mark on his first stopover at to Paris in 1900 whilst nonetheless undefined. by way of 1906 he was once a resident of the town, a celebrity of the avant-garde, and a widespread customer to the Steins’ art-filled house. It was once there that he observed Matisse’s most recent paintings and went as eco-friendly as Madame Matisse’s painted nostril. the 2 males have been outwardly well mannered to one another yet inwardly voraciously aggressive, and made it their company to maintain a prepared eye at the other’s paintings. They privately famous that it used to be going to be a directly struggle among the 2 of them for the identify of maximum residing Artist, a identify that had lately develop into on hand following Cézanne’s demise. Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse weren't alike. Fernande Olivier, Picasso’s lover and muse on the time, attributed to Matisse the comment that the 2 artists have been “as assorted because the North Pole is from the South Pole. ” Picasso got here from Spain’s scorching southern coast, Matisse from cold northern France: every one had the temperament to compare his fatherland. even though Matisse used to be over a decade older, in expert phrases he was once the Spaniard’s modern, as his early occupation as a legal professional intended he had made a past due begin to his existence as an artist. In her released memoir Fernande Olivier spells out the actual distinction among the 2 artists. Matisse, she wrote, “looked like a grand previous guy of art,” as a result of his “regular gains and his thick, golden beard. ” She thought of him “serious and cautious,” with an “astonishing lucidity of brain. ” particularly diverse from her boyfriend it appears, whom she defined as “small, darkish, thick-set, nervous and being concerned, with gloomy, deep, penetrating eyes, which have been apparently nonetheless. ” She fortunately wrote that there has been not anything “especially beautiful approximately him” prior to admitting that he had a “radiance, an internal hearth one sensed in him [that] gave him a type of magnetism. ” whilst Picasso observed Matisse’s Fauvist portray girl with a Hat he replied with Portrait of Gertrude Stein (1905–6). The three-quarter-length portrait of the girl who used to be to develop into his leader recommend and keen consumer is diversified in lots of methods. Picasso has used a palette of muted browns, no longer Matisse’s vibrant vegetables and reds. And it doesn’t have an analogous feeling of spontaneity: it feels extra reliable, immutable.

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