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HuffPuff: My Further Matisse Musings for the Huffington Post

Over at HuffPost Arts, I’ve amplified a bit on my recent CultureGrrl post about the Museum of Modern Art’s new Matisse show.

I included a couple of additional photos and quoted from the conclusion of curator John Elderfield‘s remarks to the press, which got cut off at the end of my CultureGrrl Video.

When I opened my July 26 issue of the New Yorker today, I was amused to find Peter Schjeldahl‘s review of the show accompanied by a huge, across-the-fold image of the same painting that I had caught him staring at during the press preview:

Thumbnail image for MatSchjel.jpg
Schjeldahl eyeballing Matisse’s “Blue
Nude,” 1907, from the Baltimore Museum’s Cone Collection

Like me, Schjeldahl regarded this show as “largely a forensic exercise, attended by scholarly minutiae and the lavish use of X-rays, infrared reflectograms laser scanning, and other current gadgets of the field….Their [the curators’] finicky documentation…puts me in mind of meteorologists taking barometric readings outdoors in a hurricane. Their findings are obviously germane but well short of compelling, in terms of a viewer’s experience.”

The paintings and sculptures may be timed-ticketed blockbuster material, but the dry interpretive texts surely aren’t. It seemed that the preeminent Matisse expert Elderfield, in talking to the press, understood the need to hit all the artistic points that the labels had missed in the organizers’ zeal to set before us all the nuggets of information about Matisse’s methods that had been scientifically excavated.

I’ll have a bit more to say about one of the paintings in the show, probably next week.

an ArtsJournal blog