Lessons to be Learnt from The Wizard of Oz and Matisse

Imagine you’re Dorothy.  You have just escaped Auntie Em and a life of rusticated farm-life.  You step out of your house, and no more black-and-white, but BOOM!  It’s a colour explosion, where you are literally on the other side of the rainbow.  And never mind those Munchkins…
What would you think, honestly?  That you are in some strange kind of fever-dream?  Or that you have accidentally ingested a potent hallucinogenic (let’s forget for the moment that Dorothy probably doesn’t know what that is)?  Or, simply, that you’ve just gone crazy?

Henri Matisse. 1869–1954, Portrait of Lydia Delectorskaya, 1947. Oil on canvas, 64.5 x 49.5 cm. The State Hermitage Museum, Saint-Petersburg.
Henri Matisse. 1869–1954, Portrait of Lydia Delectorskaya, 1947. Oil on canvas, 64.5 x 49.5 cm. The State Hermitage Museum, Saint-Petersburg.

I think it fair enough to say that these feelings may be eerily similar to those experienced by Matisse and co. upon their first discoveries of the Impressionists, and the likes of van Gogh and John Peter Russell.  Whilst initially taken aback by the liberal use of colour and the breaking of the rules in their painting, Matisse, Munch, and the Fauves (which literally means “The Wild Ones”), went even further.  They broke into abstraction, broke the subject down and simplified it, and colour: bold, unadulterated colour was the basis of all their work.
Do you think that if Dorothy knew what lay in wait for her on the other side of the rainbow that she would have been as eager to go? Unlike Dorothy, as the Fauves opened up a bright, shiny, new Technicolour world with their artwork, it is impossible for us to go back.  The age of suppressed and reserved art, the era of black-and-white, has gone.  The question is, do we behave like the Scarecrow and the Tin-Man, ready to face this new and exciting world (albeit one tinged with a few flying monkeys), or do we cower like the Cowardly Lion?  I leave it to you to decide… Remember, there’s no place like home but it’s up to you how you decorate it!

Henri Matisse, The Dance, 1909-1910. Oil on canvas, 260 x 391 cm. The State Hermitage Museum, Saint-Petersburg.
Henri Matisse, The Dance, 1909-1910. Oil on canvas, 260 x 391 cm. The State Hermitage Museum, Saint-Petersburg.

The Museum Folkwang in Germany is giving visitors a chance to step into their very own version of Oz, with the help of the Fauves and the Expressionists.  I promise that you will not encounter a single Wicked Witch of the West…and no, mother-in-laws do not count.  The Ecstasy of Colour exhibition is ongoing until the 13th January 2013, so if you are in the area, make sure to pencil it into your diary!  If you can’t quite make it before January, not to worry.  You’ll be able to catch up with Parkstone International’s very own Munch, by Elizabeth Ingles, or Expressionism, written by Ashley Bassie.

-Fiona Torsch

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s