"Oh, do tell the American people that I am a normal man; that I am a devoted husband and father, that I have three fine children, that I go to the theatre." These words were spoken by Matisse just before the Armory Show in 1913 a pivotal moment, after which his work was seen in America as an example of what should be admired or deplored in modern ...
"Oh, do tell the American people that I am a normal man; that I am a devoted husband and father, that I have three fine children, that I go to the theatre." These words were spoken by Matisse just before the Armory Show in 1913 a pivotal moment, after which his work was seen in America as an example of what should be admired or deplored in modern art. In this ambitious study, John O'Brian argues that Matisse's sober presentations of himself were calculated to fit with the social constraints and ideological demands of the times. Matisse's strategy included cooperating with museums, cultivating private collectors, playing off dealers one against another, and reassuring the media that, whatever his reputation as an avant-gardist, the conduct of his life was solidly bourgeois. Moving from the late 1920s, when Matisse's output was shedding its outlaw reputation, to the early 1950s, when his work was canonized, O'Brian shows how the way Matisse's work was viewed changed as attention shifted away from the seductiveness of his subject matter to the seductiveness of his paint. The art's resolute rejection of political concerns, its deployment of decorative design for visual satisfaction, and its representations of pleasure encouraged American audiences, who in the 1930s deemed the art disreputable, to celebrate its gratifications by the early years of the Cold War. This intriguing, wide-ranging investigation of Matisse's self-promotion, America's uneasy embrace of modernism, and America's consumer culture and politics provides a rich context to Clement Greenberg's words published in the "Nation" in 1947: "Matisse's cold hedonism and ruthless exclusion of everything but the concrete, immediate sensation will in the future, once we are away from the present "Zeitgeist, " be better understood as the most profound mood of the first half of the twentieth century." "
Very good(+) in very good(+) jacket. Illustrated in black and white and color. 284 pages, 8vo, blue cloth, dust wrapper. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, (1999). A very good(+) copy in a very good (+) dust wrapper.
Publishers Weekly, 1999-04-12 In 1913, when Henri Matisse exhibited 17 works at the famous Armory Show in New York, critics and spectators ridiculed his sumptuous still lifes and languorous female nudes as degenerate and aesthetically aberrant. Yet by 1927, Matisse's work had become the most expensive of any living modern artist. How did this transformation occur? In an incisive reappraisal of the making of Matisse's American reputation, art historian O'Brian (Degas to Matisse) argues that leading institutions, notably New York's Museum of Modern Art, and influential critics, such as Clement Greenberg, canonized Matisse as a paradigmatic modern artist by ignoring certain aspects of his work. In embracing Matisse's oeuvre and its rejection of political concerns, its strong decorative appeal and its affirmation of pleasure and optimism, the art establishment and a receptive public ignored its abrasive disharmonies, its facility and artificiality, its "cool hedonism," which manipulated the viewer's responses to provide visual gratification on its own terms. According to O'Brian, Matisse abetted this process by promoting his image as a solidly bourgeois avant-gardist, devoted husband and father of three children, and by assiduously cultivating good relations with the press, collectors, museums and dealers. The iconoclastic claim that Matisse's influence on Pollock, de Kooning, Motherwell, Milton Avery, Clyfford Still and others has been overestimated is startling. In the end, however, O'Brian's contention that Matisse's popularity depended on his style's congruence with postwar America's ethos of mass consumption and sensual pleasure, and its expanding economy, seems too pat to account for this "modernist old master's" abiding appeal. 30 color and 75 b&w reproductions and photographs. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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