Daily Archives: 17/12/2011

Dürer and the Aztecs

Matisse: Drawing Life is a new exhibition at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art.    Most of the drawings come from the Bibliotheque Nationale de France in Paris, with others from the National Gallery of Australia and elsewhere.  GOMA has curated the exhibition very well – and I just love the ‘Drawing Room’ at the end, where visitors are encouraged to do their own still lifes, either with pencils on paper, or on electronic pads (which had me hooked – I’ve now downloaded Zen Brush to my iPad).

Drawing at the Matisse exhibition, Brisbane

Matisse drawings are often an extreme simplification of form, a reduction to a few telling lines.  They look easy – but get close and you can see where lines were changed or rubbed out as he drew, until he reached that deceptive simplicity.

Matisse Patitcha smiling

Henri Matisse, Patitcha souriante (Patitcha smiling) 1947

Matisse was influenced by non-Western art.  It is hard to imagine Picasso’s art without the influence of African masks.  Matisse too, to a lesser extent, was influenced by North African images, while Rodin was inspired by Cambodian dancers.  All of these exotic images were readily available in Paris or Marseilles, courtesy of French imperialism.

Some artists are content to work within their culture, but others push the boundaries.

In 1520, the German artist Albrecht Dürer travelled from his home in Nuremberg to Antwerp to meet Charles V. Continue reading