Friday, May 22, 2015

A Life of Textiles --- Day 4/113

Walk: Noe Valley
Distance: 1 mile and home yoga

Henri Matisse, Odalisque in Yellow Robe, 1937

Ciwt needed to solve another carpet puzzle today and encountered a couple of rugs which had been named "Matisse Rug" by their manufacturers.  Not quite she thinks, but a sincere homage she imagines.

For one thing the carpets were machine produced.  This would have been an anathema to Matisse who had been born in a small weaver's cottage in Bohain, France where people still traveled everywhere on foot or horseback even though the railroad had recently arrived.  His father's family were weavers - silk weavers, the aristocrats of the trade - as were most families in the ancient town. Those who mastered the exacting demands of this profession were highly sophisticated, resourceful, inexhaustibly original and constantly innovative.  Also competitive.  Working with threads as fine as human hair, each shuttle in the hands of such talents performed the function of a paintbrush.

These standards of excellence and this way of life formed Matisse - his work ethic and ever-demanding aesthetic among other things.  Although other early influences drifted away, textiles retained their power for him throughout his life.  His studio in Nice was a treasure house of exotic Persian carpets, delicate Arab embroideries, richly hued African wall hangings, and any number of color cushions, curtains, costumes, patterned screens and backcloths.  
 Henri Matisse, Seated Odalisque, Left Knee Bent, 1928, o/c

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