Monday, August 04, 2008

5 masterpieces - #1 matisse's goldfish

once again inspired by the summer column on page 2 of the berlingske kultur section, i'm assigning myself 5 postings this week on masterpieces that changed my life. last time it was people and things (as it turned out), this time, masterpieces of art and literature (and maybe a bit of architecture--i'm leaving my mind open, as last time i was surprised where the assignment took me). and let's face it, i need an assignment.

so, i'll start with the first one that comes to mind. matisse's 1912 goldfish. (aside: i so wish i had lived in that era--and maybe i did, but that's the stuff of another posting on another occasion.)

it was the summer of 1994, i was leaving russia alone after studying there for a semester. i had a few days in moscow and spent one of the them by myself at the fantastic pushkin museum, where this wonderful painting hangs in a wonderful, large room that's full of other matisse paintings. strangely, i found myself alone in the room, standing there before the wonder that is the dance. i turned around and across from me, there it was, goldfish.

i approached slowly, savoring the moment and savoring the fact that i had it all to myself, even the mean old guard lady who usually sits on a stiff chair in the corner was elsewhere. i could scarcely breathe. i got closer and closer to the vibrant colors. and then, there i was, standing close enough to touch it. i could actually touch it, there was no glass, just the thick layers of paint that matisse himself laid on the canvas. and no one there to stop me.

so, i did it. i touched it, gently and just with my index and middle finger. right there in the leaves near the pink flower of the lower right corner. i felt a nearly electrical thrill pass through me and i felt transformed, even if just for a moment. i had literally touched greatness. and no one would ever be able to take that away from me.


enchantedartist said...

How amazing!! I can vividly see how excited you were...:) I can't believe you got his work all to yourself! I discovered his paintings as a teenager, and have always found his use of colour incredible.

Anonymous said...

I loved this!

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

My goodness, this is a wonderful piece of writing. Your last line is like poetry and an inspiring message.
If I ever get the chance to see that painting, even behind glass, I'll be sure to think of you and look for your finger print on the paint ;)

"i had literally touched greatness. and no one would ever be able to take that away from me."- wow. I love it.

tangobaby said...

I love this assignment (and commend you for your moment of bravery). I have longed to touch several painting in my life and would have never dared...

I think you describe marvelously how a piece of art can move you, to feelings and insights that you would never have by seeing a photograph of that same art. You make me think of the five pieces that I might choose.

Magpie said...

Wow - I've never seen that before. It's lovely - and you touched it!

d smith kaich jones said...

Oh, Matisse would've been THRILLED to have you touch it, don't you think? I want people to want to touch my art - I want that connection & I want THEM to want that connection. And I totally understand.

I was once at a show of Ansel Adams' photographs, and there was one - it was a Polaroid - that LITERALLY took my breath away. I finally understood what the word breathtaking meant. But there it was - just a Polaroid - but Ansel knew he had it. One could just see him looking at the snapshot & saying to himself "Got it!". No need for more. It was incredible.

Touching Matisse. That's a book title. I expect to read it soon! :)

Love, Debi

Andi said...

There's a big impressionist exhibit going on in Dallas/Fort Worth right now, and I'm a tad scared to go because 1) I will want to touch a Van Gogh so bad I will probably get arrested 2) I will cry. I get dumbstruck and teary that close to that many amazing works of art.

Kristina said...

I love that you touched it. I love that you even could. I bet you just melted, didn't you?