Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy Birthday Henri Matisse!

In honor of Henri Matisse, who was born on New Year’s Eve, I am writing about how I feel when I look at his works in person.

What makes seeing a painting in a museum so special?  Everybody probably has different reasons but two stand out for me the most.

First is the scale of everything. You may see a painting a hundred times but never understood the impact it makes by the size of it, whether it is 8 feet tall or much smaller than you would have imagined.  There is no better way to show the scale of something unless you are there to see it for yourself.  The MoMA has this comparision that shows Matisse's painting  “Bathers by a River,” so you can see just how big it really is.

Photo: Henri Matisse painting Bathers by a River, May 13, 1913. Photograph by Alvin Langdon Coburn. Courtesy of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester

Painting: Henri Matisse. Bathers by a River. 1909–10, 1913, 1916–17. Oil on canvas, 102 1/2 x 154 3/16" (260 x 392 cm). The Art Institute of Chicago, Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection. © 2010 Succession H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

I encourage you to show your children this photograph and then bring them to see the real painting at The Chicago Art Institute, it will be a WOW you can’t buy in a toy store.

The other reason why seeing a painting in a museum is so special, is being able to look into the painting and see the many layers of the painting.  You almost always see things in the painting you can never see in a book or online.  This summer I visited Matisse’s “The Red Studio” and was amazed…I could have looked at it for hours. I felt like I was going back in time and envisioning what Matisse was thinking when he painted what he did.  Why he put strokes down, what made him put some details in and what made him leave details out.  To see the underpainting…his original canvas, you can see the canvas how Matisse was seeing it.

This painting inspired us at kidzaw to create a painting kit to help children understand a little bit about this painting and make them feel a part of it too. Here are some close-ups of the painting, The Red Studio. If you get a chance to go to The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in NYC and see this painting you will also be amazed at how big this painting really is.

Our Matisse kit should be ready in Spring of 2012 and we will keep you updated on its progress.

Happy Birthday Henri Matisse
and Happy New Year to everyone!

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