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Matisse and Picasso [Paperback]

Yve-Alain Bois
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 19 2001
The award-winning account of the powerful dialogue between the two masters of twentieth-century art

Fiercely competitive, Matisse and Picasso engaged in one of the most formidable artistic dialogues of this century. The intense beginning of the relationship between the two artists-from the time they met in 1906 until 1917, when Matisse left for Nice-has already been amply studied, but this is the only detailed examination of their continuous exchange during the second part of their career. In Matisse and Picasso, Yve-Alain Bois stages the intertwined evolution of the two giants of modern art as if it were an ongoing game of chess between two masters.The postwar period, during which they often met and exhibited together, is the most poignant in their long friendship. It includes monuments such as Picasso's War and Peace murals in Vallauris, which can be read as a response to Matisse's Vence chapel.

Matisse and Picasso's dense plot and rich narrative make this work read more like a suspense novel than a traditional art history treatise. Bois's thoroughly researched historical demonstration is supported by striking visual juxtaposition of works by the two artists brought together here for the first time, making this award-winning study a major contribution to the history of twentieth-century art.


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From Library Journal

Bois's (modern art, Harvard Univ.) well-argued thesis that Matisse, the sensual observer, and Picasso, the structuralist, had each other "in mind" when creating many paintings and sculptures redefines their complex relationship. With enormous appetite and "understanding," they worked similar ideas to dissimilar ends, challenging and influencing each other in great measure. By chronicling their mutual respect and referencing the historical documents of the time and what can now be deduced from the visual record, Bois has uncovered a wealth of evidence to support what was always implied. The many full-color illustrations encourage comparison and bolster the well-documented text. Ultimately, this is more than a book about Picasso and Matisse; through their examples, it is about the language of painting itself. Connoisseurs and students of modern art will derive much pleasure from this accomplishment, which accompanies a show currently at the Kimball Art Museum in Fort Worth, TX. Recommended for large public and academic libraries and any modern art collection.AEllen Bates, MLS, New York
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Yve-Alain Bois is the Joseph Pulitzer, Jr. Professor of Modern Art at Harvard University. He has written extensively on twentieth-century art, particularly Minimal art. A collection of his essays, Painting as a Model, has been published by M.I.T. Press (1990). He co-organized the 1994-5 retrospective of Piet Mondrian in The Hague, Washington and New York. Among other projects, he is currently preparing the catalogue raisonné of Barnett Newman.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Dialogue--not clash--of the titans May 26 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
This nimble and witty book by one of the most important scholars of modern art is not merely the sum of two monographs on these giants of the 20th century. To the now-standard operating procedure of relativism and contextualization, Bois adds a twist. He proposes the relationship between the artists as a fitful but sustaining dialogue, rejecting as inadequate to the critical task the idea that Matisse and Picasso simply influenced one another. Drawing on diverse theoretical models in the writing of Mikhail Bakhtin, Hubert Damisch, Rene Girard and Harold Bloom, the author argues instead that for a period of over 25 years, from the late 1920s until after Matisse's death in 1954, each artist deliberately addressed his work in specific ways to the other. The theory is necessary because actual contact between the two was sporadic. This is what makes Bois's thesis about their need for one another so intriguing. What prompted this dialogue--what made the need possible, Bois asserts--was their common cause against abstraction. Prodding, teasing, paying homage, supplicating, even misunderstanding--in these and other ways Matisse and Picasso challenged each other in their mutual effort to push the envelope of representation without letting the tangibility of the world's things slip from their grasp. When they strayed into the other's long-established artistic territories (Picasso painting odalisques; Matisse working in a Cubist idiom) they were sending signals to each other above the artistic fray, in a kind of Olympian fraternal sympathy. This sealing off of Matisse's and Picasso's artistic communication from the rest of the world is the most controversial aspect of the book, as it was of the beautiful exhibition it accompanied at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Some might say that another exhibition of Matisse and Picasso is hardly what the art world needs. Havent't we seen enough of these two artists recently? Why continue to do blockbuster exhibitions which just show us well-known works? If you read this book, you might change your mind about the relevance of the show. First, although some of the paintings shown here are quite familiar from other exhibitions, many have never been exhibited or published before. Second, this exhibition offers a rare look at a virtually unique case of two major artists who visibly responded to each other's styles during 25 years of peak productivity. The book focusses on the 1930's, '40's and early 1950's (the section on the war years is particularly well-written), and allows the reader to experience, virtually month by month, the artistic interaction between the two artists. It is fascinating to see the commonality in their themes, beliefs and motifs, despite the great difference in their visual styles. Finally, this is a well-designed book - the plates are of the highest color quality and are beautifully arranged. Although English is not Bois' first language, the text has been translated in an elegant and efficient manner. If you can't go see this exhibition, definitely read this book.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary catalogue for an unusual exhibition March 8 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Some might say that another exhibition of Matisse and Picasso is hardly what the art world needs. Havent't we seen enough of these two artists recently? Why continue to do blockbuster exhibitions which just show us well-known works? If you read this book, you might change your mind about the relevance of the show. First, although some of the paintings shown here are quite familiar from other exhibitions, many have never been exhibited or published before. Second, this exhibition offers a rare look at a virtually unique case of two major artists who visibly responded to each other's styles during 25 years of peak productivity. The book focusses on the 1930's, '40's and early 1950's (the section on the war years is particularly well-written), and allows the reader to experience, virtually month by month, the artistic interaction between the two artists. It is fascinating to see the commonality in their themes, beliefs and motifs, despite the great difference in their visual styles. Finally, this is a well-designed book - the plates are of the highest color quality and are beautifully arranged. Although English is not Bois' first language, the text has been translated in an elegant and efficient manner. If you can't go see this exhibition, definitely read this book.
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dialogue--not clash--of the titans May 26 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This nimble and witty book by one of the most important scholars of modern art is not merely the sum of two monographs on these giants of the 20th century. To the now-standard operating procedure of relativism and contextualization, Bois adds a twist. He proposes the relationship between the artists as a fitful but sustaining dialogue, rejecting as inadequate to the critical task the idea that Matisse and Picasso simply influenced one another. Drawing on diverse theoretical models in the writing of Mikhail Bakhtin, Hubert Damisch, Rene Girard and Harold Bloom, the author argues instead that for a period of over 25 years, from the late 1920s until after Matisse's death in 1954, each artist deliberately addressed his work in specific ways to the other. The theory is necessary because actual contact between the two was sporadic. This is what makes Bois's thesis about their need for one another so intriguing. What prompted this dialogue--what made the need possible, Bois asserts--was their common cause against abstraction. Prodding, teasing, paying homage, supplicating, even misunderstanding--in these and other ways Matisse and Picasso challenged each other in their mutual effort to push the envelope of representation without letting the tangibility of the world's things slip from their grasp. When they strayed into the other's long-established artistic territories (Picasso painting odalisques; Matisse working in a Cubist idiom) they were sending signals to each other above the artistic fray, in a kind of Olympian fraternal sympathy. This sealing off of Matisse's and Picasso's artistic communication from the rest of the world is the most controversial aspect of the book, as it was of the beautiful exhibition it accompanied at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. Bois frankly calls his effort an "experiment" in which it is necessary to isolate variables, studying them carefully in relation to one another, with the relationship itself as the constant factor. This scientific conceit of "let's see what happens" is undermined by the humanistic drive to demonstrate a thesis. And we should be thankful for that. Like the best publications arising from exhibitions, this book will have independent, lasting value, but it will also be more provocative than most.
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy Reading about the two art giants of the 20th century Jan. 8 2014
By Asian tom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have only skimmed through the book, yet, but it looks very interesting and I look forward to thoroughly enjoying it. It is written in an easy to follow style. I am very interested to learn more about the connections that Matisse and Picasso created and more about their cutting edgeinnovations.
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