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  • Writer's pictureStephen Clively

Join the great masters - don't finish your art!

One the thing I love about big gallery shows like Masters of modern art from the Hermitage (Art Gallery of NSW until 3 March 2019) is that they allow a close look at the working methods of the great modern artists.

Here’s Henri Matisse's Nymph and Satyr, see the lines showing through the paint from the earlier placement of the figure on the right.

It seems that Matisse started this painting in 1908 and then reworked it in 1909 for sale to the Russian collector Sergey Shchukin. While the paint had dried Matisse worried whether it was hard enough to transport to Shchukin in Moscow.

In any case, the visible contours from the previous painting give the work a sense of dynamism.

Or Cézanne - not bothering to join up the background floral motif on the wall paper. in his Fruit (1879/80).

Cezanne began the arrangement for this still life by crumpling the napkin and giving it a central position both anchoring and linking the composition of fruit, jugs and a carafe.

It’s likely that Cezanne’s intention was to create a pleasing arrangement rather than producing - in the style of the Dutch masters - a bravura realistic painting of glistening fruit, crusty bread and stunningly clear glassware. Hence it is not important that the wallpaper pattern behind this arrangement is incomplete.

Details about this exhibition are here.

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