An object lesson from Matisse

Etienne de Silhouette was the kind of finance minister that people love to see hanged publicly. He was all about financial austerity. Not surprisingly, the cheapest way to get yourself a portrait (which was a paper cutout of a person’s profile in the 18th century) got his name. For a couple of centuries, artists had […]

Matisse’s secret joke

Art historians have missed it. Art lovers have missed it. I saw it by accident. Anyone who knows Matisse knows The Red Room, or The Harmony in Red, painted in 1908 for the dining room of a Russian collector. Most art lovers and Wikipedia readers are aware it was supposed to be blue, but Matisse […]

Matisse’s Last Will

“What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject-matter, an art which could be for every mental worker, for the businessman as well as the man of letters, … a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from […]

Matisse versus Pollaiuolo, or Dream versus Mirror

Antonio del Pollaiuolo. Teacher of Sandro Boticelli. Lived through the 15th century in the best place to live at the time, in Florence. Spent his later years in Rome, where – despite it was known he was gay, he was commissioned to sculpture the pope’s tomb. Those were relatively tolerant times. Only 10 of his […]

20th Century Art in Scents – 1917

If you missed it: Chapter 1 – launch of the perfume L’Origan de Coty and Art Nouveau By 1905, when L’Origan de Coty stroke a scented crescendo of the Art Nouveau age, this art movement had already been at its deathbed for a few years. Airplanes, fast steam engines, colossal ships, electric vacuum cleaners, radio […]

20th Century Art in Scents – 1905

On average, art reflects society but sometimes an artist can jump ahead of their time (like Turner, Picasso or early Tracy Emin). Perfume doesn’t mirror life, it sums up epochs (it takes more time to develop a scent than to make a painting), but a genius Nose can also catch a whiff of the future. […]

Two Masterpieces from Must-see Show in Moscow

The State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow has put together a show of art collections of Schukin brothers, kings of the Russian textile industry at the beginning of the last century. Thanks to one of them Russia boasts a great collection of (post)impressionists, fauvists, and cubists. It was split between Moscow and The […]

Nude or Naked? Art or Kitsch?

Pigeonholing female nude and naked in a practical way that may revitilise your next gallery visit.  The debate about nude and naked has been raging on since Kenneth Clark said 60 years ago that “no nude, however abstract, should fail to arouse in the spectator some vestige of erotic feeling, even though it be only […]