ARTisSpectrum Vol.30, November 2013 - page 48-49

ARTisSpectrum | Volume 30 |
ARTisSpectrum | Volume 30 |
Travels with a Paintbrush:
In Matisse’s Villa le Rêve, (Vence, Southern France)
Caroline Josephs Ph.D.
Creativity takes courage.
-- Henri Matisse
With suitcases weighted with paper, paint, and brushes for the next week, a dozen Australian artists haul and wheel luggage
loads up a short winding laneway towards the Villa in Vence. We have come to live and paint in Villa le Rêve, where Matisse
lived, drew and painted between 1943 and 1949.
In the morning, we have been absorbing exhibitions of the work of both Matisse and Chagall (who also lived in the vicinity)
among the mountains northwest of Nice en route to the medieval village of Vence.
Inspired by Chagall’s huge biblical-metaphorical works and the essential simplicity of Matisse’s sculptures, drawings, and
paintings, murals and chasubles, we settle into our bedrooms and explore our surroundings.
One particular image, its evolution and final placement, is haunting
I had embarked on a personal ‘pilgrimage’ to Philadelphia a few
weeks earlier to see Matisse’s
La Danse
, completed in Nice in 1933,
some ten years before he moved to Le Rêve. Matisse had worked
La Danse
in a huge garage near where he was living in the Hotel
Régina. (On our way here from Nice, we have also visited the large
Matisse and Chagall museums nearby, which house many of the
artists’ works).
La Danse
though, had a particular trajectory, and it is this story which
has me in its thrall. This work is to influence my own artwork at the
villa -- though at that moment I am completely unaware of how that
is to be.
La Danse
seems to embody, for me, all that Matisse’s Art is:
simple, musical, rhythmic, sensuous, celebrative of feminine forms,
and stripped to essential line.
‘La Danse’ was commissioned by millionaire art
collector and critic, Dr. Albert Barnes, an American.
It was to be fifteen and half meters by three and
a half meters and fit into Barnes’ private gallery
near Philadelphia, in three vaulted arches. After 12
months’ work on a version, (in 1932) Matisse made
the awful discovery that he had been working on
measurements which were off by a meter! However,
in spite of Barnes’ interference he completed a new
version in April 1933.
“I don’t paint things.
I only paint the
Villa le Rêve, Matisse’s home and studio 1943-49
Hotel Regina where Matisse stayed
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