Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Subject of Art #4: Henri Matisse and the Wild Beasts

Henri Matisse, Le Bonheur de Vivre, 1905-6

Every once in a while it's good to give credit where credit is due and with that in mind it's worth taking a look back at one of art history's most underrated movements. Around the beginning of the 20th century, a group of painters in Paris came together to form "Les Fauves" (The Wild Beasts in English) and the work that they did would open the doors to artwork that was completely unfettered in its manner of expression.

The deconstruction of previously precious traditions in the art world at that time would lead directly to the development of abstract painting and the elevation of the role of the artist to one of intuitive, spontaneous creation free from any constricting rules. Much of what we take for granted as artists in the 21st century was forged against public outcry and critical disdain over a hundred years ago, by people who were brave enough to believe that what they felt in their hearts was more important than what they learned in school.

The most significant development that came out of the Fauvist movement was the complete liberation of color from any requirements of representation. For these painters, color represented emotion and although the subject of the painting may have come from real life, the color of that subject was determined more by how the painter felt about it than anything that actually appeared on the real objects. This was a major innovation for the time.

Up until that point, color remained a quality of the subject that was not to be tampered with and, in fact, many artists were judged great masters because of their ability to portray the actual colors of their subjects in a totally faithful way. Even as Impressionism became the predominant force in Western art, the prevailing wisdom was that one should try to paint what one is actually seeing and flights of imagination and emotion were discouraged. The work of the Post-Impressionists, particularly Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin laid the foundation which Les Fauves built upon, but even their colors tended to remain chained to perceptions of the real world outside, and it was up to the Wild Beasts to truly begin to liberate color and let the harmonies of the composition tell their own story.

By far the most well known of Les Fauves was Henri Matisse, who was generally acknowledged to be the leader and philosophical guide of the group. In spite of the difficulties that Matisse faced with gaining acceptance for his work in the beginning, he eventually gained great respect from art lovers and enjoyed a continuous popularity throughout his life.

The fantastic intensity of color in Matisse's paintings were always put into the service of a great sense of joy, wonder and a love of life. His use of color touched many people deeply and often stood at odds with the cynical and often harsh styles of his contemporaries—particularly his great friend Pablo Picasso—but this in itself was a testament to the fact that the art of any given period could cover a wide range of emotion.

Less well known, but nonetheless influential, were the other members of the group: Andre Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, Raoul Dufy, Georges Roualt, and Georges Braques (who would later go on to work with Picasso and become a founder of Cubism). Many of them, including Matisse, had been students of the Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau, a maverick professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts whose influence was inspirational. Moreau's paintings were filled with an unearthly spirituality, and although he never displayed the wildness of his students, his love of pure color and his willingness to embrace new ideas was a catalyst to the future triumphs of Matisse and his contemporaries.

The group gained notoriety at the Salon D'Automne of 1905, after which the popular art critic, Louis Vauxcelles, made the comment that their paintings might have been done by wild beasts. In the true spirit of the time, Matisse and company took that unkind remark and turned it on its head, in effect exclaiming that it was better to paint as a wild beast than as a man with no feeling at all!

Andre Derain, Charing Cross Bridge, 1906

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

This Week @ BINDERS - May 3-8


We’ll be posting new ART school classes online this week - so check back for our most updated offerings!

In other news, it's happening again - our pre-order case canvas sale! The response to our previous sale was so tremendous that we've decided to do it all over again, except this time we'll be letting our pro-quality Fredrix canvases head out the door for unheard of prices! From now until May 10th you can pre-order cases of Gallery Wrap, Red Label, Blue Label Ultra Smooth and Green Label Pro Linen for 60% off MSRP. Download our PDF price sheet and order form and email, fax, call in or bring in your order to the store. The cases will be available to pick up at the store on/after May 25th. After that you'll be set for canvases through the rest of the summer - you'll be happy and your bank account will be too!


Monday, May 3:
Guided Open Studio with Kay Powell
10:30am-2pm • Every Monday | Beginner to Intermediate | Fee: $17/per session. Please pay the instructor. No registration necessary

Tuesday, May 4:
Painting-Design and Technique with Charles Y. Walls
1-4pm, Tuesdays, 6 Sessions, April 20-May 25
Open to all levels | Fee: $140 | Min. 8/ Max. 15

Bookmaking with Anne Elser
6-8:30pm, Tuesdays, 6 sessions, April 13-May 18
Beginner to Advanced | Fee: $140 | Min. 4/ Max. 15

Painting-Design and Technique with Charles Y. Walls
6-8:30pm, Tuesdays, 6 Sessions, April 20-May 25
see details above

Wednesday, May 5:
Impressionist Paintings From Photos with J.Z.Torre
1-4pm, Wednesdays, 6 Sessions, April 7-May 12
Advanced Beginner to Intermediate You should know the basics of the Color Wheel, Tonal Values, and simple Perspective to get the most from this course.
Fee: $160 | Min. 6/ Max. 12

Copperplate Calligraphy with Anne Elser
6-8:30pm, Wednesdays, 6 sessions, April 14-May 19
Beginner to Intermediate | Fee: $140 | Min. 4/ Max. 15

Fearless Watercolor Landscapes with Susan Bradford
6-8:30pm, Wednesdays, 6 Sessions, April 7-May 12
Beginner to Intermediate | Fee: $140 | Min.3/ Max. 10

Thursday, May 6:
Italic Calligraphy with Anne Elser
6-8:30pm, Thursdays, 6 sessions, April 15-May 20
Beginner to Intermediate | Fee: $140 | Min. 4/ Max. 15

Friday, May 7:
No special art events today.

Saturday, May 8:
No special art events today.

Sunday, May 9:
2-4pm Reception for “Beyond the Dot” Foundation Studies Honor Show SCAD Atlanta in The Limelight Gallery

Please note: Classes on this schedule are in our Atlanta store unless otherwise indicated. For more information please email or call Eli Pelizza at 404.237.6331 ext. 203.

Check out the full list of our upcoming art classes and art workshops! Sign up for 5 classes, workshops or demos and receive 25% OFF of your next sign up.


“Beyond the Dot” Foundation Studies Honor Show SCAD Atlanta

Reception: Sunday May 9 from 2-4pm

Showing May 9-27

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