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art since1900

modernism antimodernism postmodernism

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g F : tn so u th e r n r a n cefo llo win th e r e tr o sp e cti ves d P aul C6z a n n e ie s a t A i x -en-P rov enc e deathcasts year,Cezanne's S euratthe preceding of V incen tva n Go g h and Georges a pas t' withF a u vism s r tsh e ir . as P ost impr e ssio n i sm the hi s tori c al

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dictum: C6zanne was enri Matisse veryfond of a particular quoted it "Bewareof the influential masterl" He often and tradition' the when addressing issueof inheritance from to escape in Poussin order had Noting that Cdzarnne revisited in the fact that he' the sp"ellof Courbet, he would take pride ..never emphasizing of the avoided influence others,,, had Matisse, (he is "a sort of in clf the in.rportance Cdzanne his own formation is "the masterof us all"; "if Cdzanne right' I am god of painting," that he wasstrongenough claim u.td so on). But Matisse's ,lgt-rt," to is of the example a masterwithout succumbing it to assimilate Unlike his friend' and when it comesto C6zanne' disingenuous who jauntily (1879-1965)' fut.,r. f.llu* Fauve'CharlesCamoin wasacutely times'Matisse visitedthe agingpainterin Aix several tbr represented young C6zanne that ofthe potentialclanger alvare Life with a Purro I' like himself' Looking at Matisse'sStill acimirers paintedin the stlmmertrf Saint-Tropez,both Lices, or his Placedes he a Statement rnadehalf a one cannot help but think of 190'1, a master' centurylater(it wasone of his last):"When one imitates the imitator and forms the techniqueof the naster strangles him'" him aror.rnd a barrierthat paralyzes

replieswas "What do you think of C6zanne?" most passionate (N{atisse not bother to givehis obviousanswer)'The rise did by reputationwasthen unstoppabie: the time he d Cdzanne's that his foremost was so pervasive 1906,his appeal in C)ctober Denis( 1870-1943 Maurice the champion, painter-theoretician seenhim as the saviorof the mori paradoxically who had beratedthe work tradition of Frenchclassicism-cried foul ar.rd case his many followersas either too derivativeor' in the thana betrayal ' nothi ngl ess Mati sse. Morice's "lnvestigation" helps us to put this sudden hlpe surrounding Cdzanne into context' He had bluntly "Are we Then,more diplomatically: finished?" "ls lmpressionism ever}tnl and on the eveofsomething?" "N{ustthe painterexpect means fiom nature, or must he only ask from it the pli.rstic tol r'vere questions These the realize thoughtthat is in him?" Whistler' Fanttnbv a requestfor an evaluationof the rvork of Ifthe query Latour,and Gauguin'aswell asthat ofCdzanne' Morice had long been a since Gauguin rvasto be expected, with him)' those Noa-Non (he of the painter's had coauthored r ally concernins Whistler arnd Fantin-Latour, testil-vingtcl N{orice's yea active participation in the Symbolist movement twenty conlirmed)' A earlier,were incongruous(as the answers juxtaposedthe names of van Gogh critic would have savrry

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of Th ef o u re va n g e lists Postimpressionism

that had seuratrviththoseofc6zanneandGauguininsuchaquestionnatre' ltxionr 1he year 1904was rvhenc6zirn'e, cut off from a worlc.l loud the new generation's Imposingarticles for by then it had becomeobviousthat h r d t, him all his life, finally attainedcelebrity. ricliculed "Yes"toMorice'sseqLlenceofanti-Impressionismquestionsrvasa'' by phras, were publishedabout him (notably an essay Emile Bernard cumul ati veeffectofthi squartet' scoeval rvork' .lttclll (rcd rE rr w rr [ I a I O O - -1 41] I 186 81 v +9 r I ); ) ; dealer s ot h e rth a n Amb ro i s e V o l l a rd ,h i sl oneoffi ci al ,-r,- - - AooA- , It shouldbe noted that van Gogh and seuratwerelong deadhim (he had a one-rran on si o n i s gambling started since1gg5, supportef that the first in 1890, the second,the following year-and of Yet tiBerlin);anclin the fail, a mini-retrospective his work shou,ir-r abroad for more than d d'Automne, Gauguin,rvho dieclin 1903'had been Po sti at r presentecl the Salon rvas (with thirty-onepaintings) that' arnongthe four therefore' It (threeyearslater' decade' comesas no surprise' ttlilst( thetime oneof thefivoannualParisiar-rartfairsof c6zanne should be the mo$ of woul<l evangelists Postimpressionism, ing a the equrvalent, SalondesInd6pe'<1ants, in 1907,its spring presentat this point' Iluilu in size). top this eventwith an exhibitiondouble l:':::"t,T:1:t; ""'t'ti'l:':::1:::::t-':f c6zanne's in death re06'1 and 1e03 ''T:X;:::;il';;;;;ffi;;;"* bll van Gogh, Gauguin, and Seurathad etrchbeen celebrated ur r 'r r r LJ ltlc _ nf: at tne lr lne. a ft Wo fl d P( r ct- Lr r r r L of the parisian art rvorld at the time. Tl-repoet-critic charles 'l er r - " D '- ) - - - - - o' C t t h e Pa f t s ta n , . -. , ^.:,^ - ur exhibitio's (with their attendantstl'lng^ l : retrospective des trctuelles arts plastiques" severai sur lv{orice,s,.E'qute lestenclances *tll tn: sometimes the publications), Arts) presentecl (tnvestigation ultr rLrr Trendsin the Plastic ut of Current 11:t::1"]:]":,::::::"T:l::: \ rrrYg5trSdtrurr thesefour fatherbetrveen relationsl-rips personal And while the to that its author had ser-rt artistsof to answers ir tluestionnaire


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possible grasp to , ii not outrightconflict,it norvseenled ig,norance itt whatthcl'hitc'l ctlmnlon' donesomeof the groundwork had aiready Theirdirectcpigot.res Both Denisand Bernardhad concerned. irsfar as art theorl'\\ras between tl.reart of Gauguin and that of ndu.,.ot..la svnthesis and for (Izanne but thentostimPortantevent Matisse his cohorts ; signac'sD'Eugine Delacroixau neoof the rvas seriirlization Paul to Delacroix neo-Impressionism) (From Eugdne inrttressionnisnlc did this treatisepresent Not only in in La Ril,ueblnttche 1898. (indifferentlylabeled"divisionism" or "neomethod Seurat's fashion,but, as its title accessible in impressionisnr") an orderly, account, a genealogy as as it clear, wascclnceived a teleological macle art fiom the earlynineteenthcenturvon' Therewas of the"nerv"in little emphasison Seurat'sdream or on the optical surprisinglv theorieson which it was based-the idea that the physiology like the prismaticdecomhumaneyecould perform sornething the "divided" colors would position of light in reverse,that on resynthesize the retina in order to attain the iuminositl'of the had alreadyadmittedto himself that Signac sun-perhapsbecause "coninsistedon the successive Rather,Signac thiswasa chimera. understoodas tributions"of Delacroixand of the Impressionists, of for the total emancipation pure color perpaved way the having

the four rnajorPostin-rpressionists all stressed if color and had that lir.re wereto be celebrated, their expressive if function wereto be enhanced, from the objects they had to becomeindependent they Matisse depicted. Further, these artists shou,ed that the only wayto assert of this autonomyof the basicelements paintingwasfirst to (as isolate them then.r a chemist would do) and then to recornbiire into a new synthetic whole.Although Seurathad erredwhen he methodto the immateriality of soughtto applythis experimental his light, that unreachable Holy Grail of painters, analysis/synthenonmimetic sisprocess in of resulted the apotheosis the physical, Matisse components painting, of and it n assucha returnto basics, in Postimpressionism general. wasnow ready see, to that governed branch that Because divisionismwas the only Postimpressionist camervith an explicit method, it was a good placefrom u'hich to to startagain. When Signac invited Matisse spendthe summerof 1904 in Saint-Tropez, Matissewas still trying out the various modPostimpressionist but dialects, he wasa far more seasoned ernistthanhe hadbeenin 1898.Eventhoughit wasnow harderfor Matisse playthe apprentice, timing wasright. the to


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Matisse wasconcerned, anxiousand reluctant the Within such a context,C6zanne's As far asSignac formedby neo-Impressionism. (one color per stroke,each rvas lirxe, purchascd finallyturning out to be his bestpupil: Signac atomisticbrush-strokes idiosyncratic, in contpleted that N{atisse calmeet voluptd l, the major canvas contribudiscrete) were deemeda congruent keptconspicuously tl at and Parisupon his returnfrom Saint-Tropez exhibited the 1905 the tion consolidating ban on the mixing of colors that had stiil (whereboth van Gogh and Seurathad a SalondesInddper-rdants been standard practice during Impressionism. Matisse's Was it the idyllic subject n.tatterthat particularly 6rst encounterwith Signac's gospelwas premature. retrospective). Aftera trip to Londonin order to seeTurner'spaintings(on the seduced Signac-fir'e naked nymphs picnickingby the seashore advice C6zanne's of and those MadameMatisse dressed mentor, the old Camille Pissarro), had under the eyes a crouched, he of headed Corsica, for wasit the title derived Or wherehis art-then a murky and not-so-com- of a standing child wrappedin a towel? petentform of Impressionism-turned "epileptic,"ashe wrote in (182l -67),a raredi rectl it er ar i'allusion from C harl es audel ai re B a panicto a friend,upon his suddendiscovery not chose to notice Signac Whatever case, the in Matisse's oeuvre? ofsouthern light. In tlre numerous in paintingshe completedin Corsicaand then in the hear,ry coloredcontourswrigglingall over the conrposititrn Toulouse 1898and 1899,the feverishbrush,strokesare thick in de sentlc Bonheur t'it're But defiance his syster.r.r. when Matisse of with impasto, and the colorsineluctablylosetheir intendedincan- to the Salondeslnd6pendants the subsequent was Signac of 1'ear, descence the pastes as and b1' the in mix directly on the canvas.The cardinal incensed precisely such elements this canvas, by axiomof Postimpressionism whater.er (of the these two events, Fauve persuasion), ofcolor. Bettveen that one undividedflat planes had to "organize one'ssensation," use Cezanne,s d'Automne. 1905Salon at to had celebrated scandal takenplace the infamous phrase, cameto Matisse Signacpreciselyat this point. But his via As the British critic, painter, and teacherLawrenceGowing o:,.TP, at followingthe minute "Fauvisrn procedures was the best preparedof all the twentiethremarked, requiredbi, the divislonlstsvstem, during the next few months, remainedfrustrating. centuryrevolutions." oneshouldaddthat it rvas alsooneof the But Yetthisfailure exacerbated desire comorehend wholeof had his True,most of the Fauves known to shortest: lasted a season. it but the P0stimpressionism (he notably purchased,"u.rul works by its as the and had long considered older Matisse other for years each masters-thena consicierable financialsacrifice him-includ(betw een A 1895 and 1896, l bertMarque t11875- 19471, thei rl eader for utga smalfpainting by Gauguin an<l,above all, C6zanne,s and Charles Camoin u'erehis colThree Henri Manguin [1874-1949], t'athers,painting a frornthe mid- to late lg70sthat he would trea_ leagues the studioof Gustave of Moreau,the only oasis fieedom in rurelikea talisman tintil he donated to the city of parisin 1936). at the Ecole Beaux-Arts, n'henhe switched the Acaddmie to and it des with these few works and never n.rissing post- Carridre he afterMoreau'sdeathin 1898, met Andrd Derain,who a ,_!lnult,,lt lmpressionistshow constituted the major part of Matisse,s sooni ntroduced m to Mauri cede V l arni nck11876- 1958]But hi ). education prior to his second visit to Vlaminck's bout of divisionism. He the initial spark can be traced to Matisse's :{Ttt, that despitemajor differences their art, studio,at Derain's tj:.t't:lerstood had thenjust 1905. Matisse urging,in February in

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1 . Henri Matisse, Luxe, calme et volupt6, 19O4-s O c r c a n'ra s. 9 8 3 x 1 l B 5 (3 8,' , r 46,t)

finished Luxe, cahneet voluptd,of which he was rightfully proud, but now he felt unsettled the coloristic by violence Vlaminck's of production.It would takehim the wholesummer,which he spent ivith Derainin Collioure,closeto the Spanish border,to get over ^ jejuneaudacity. Vlaminck's Spurredby Derain'spresence, by and the visit they paid togetherto a trove of Gauguin'sworks, he paintednonstopfbr tbr.rr consecutive months.The results this of strikinglyproductivecampaignwere the key rvclrks what was of soonto be called Fauvism. Upon seeing academic the n-rarbles a now long-tbrgotten of sculp- r tor in the middle of the room wherethe work of Nlatisse and his tl'iendsDerarin, Vlaminck, Camoin, Manguin, and Marquet was exhibited the 1905 at "Donatello Salon d'Autorr-rne,criticexclirimed a chczles fauvesl"("Donatelloamong the wild beasts!"). The label 5't,sli-perhaps the most celebrated baptismal episode r.ur,entiethof

lar, paintedshortly after his return from Collioure-provoked thi crowd's hilarity as no work had done sincethe public display Manet'sOlympiain 1863, and nervs that this infamouspainting (by Gertrudeand Leo Stein) did not calm been purchased sarcasm the press. of Not only did Matisse's associates benefitfroru his sr-rdden fame,but the ideathat he wasthe headof ir new schoolof painting crystallized, and indeed hjs art was ernulated(the initial: Fauves weresoonjoinedby others suchasRaoulDufi' [1977-1953], Othon Fri esz[1879-1949], eesvan D ongen l l 3 77- 19681 K and momentarily, Georges Braque ). [1882-1963] But whilehis acollq with tl-re exceptionof Braque,got foreverstuck in the exploitation (and banalization) the pictoriallanguage of inventeddurir.rg

summerof 1905, Matisse Collioure for the explosion beenonl9 had a beginning: markedthe moment when he finally achieved it synthesis the four trendsof Postirnpressionism had captiof that tlrr"LuTart-ilt large part because uproar lvas ci-rnsiderable.vatedhirn, ancllaiclthe the ground fitr his owr.r s,vstem, rvhose first fulF \i:rii:se's Fauve canvases-7'he Wontan with theHot l2l in particr.r- fledged pictorialrnanifestation wouldbe LeBonhetn-de vivre.


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lhc cxamplcKcvnr's gives suchir slatcis ol'beingin kl.e: of -I'ltcapprLtprittr' sl|ft'ct-s ofprl.s sittrtrttt, cotrtt,rtrplntiott onl corrttttttrtiott o bdLtycd r+'t,rc pt'rson, lt*ttttt,tutd truth, tttttlorrt"s printc ob.iects li.fewcrcloye thccrt,ntiort itt tuul , ett.joyntcrtt o.l-acstlrctic expcrie attulthc pttrsttit trct ol knowle tlgc. VirginiaWoolf 's recollcction Fry illustratcs of manvoi Keynes's characterizatior-rs of Bloomsbury, suchasthc pursuitof "tinrcless, passionate states contentplatiorr cornlluni()n, of and largelyunattached 'bcfore' and 'after' " rvhosc"value to depencled, accordance in with the principleof organic unit1, on the stateof affairsasa n hole rvhichcould r-rot usef be ully ar-rah'zed parts."Accordingly,shedcscribes into Fry'sinaugural Slacle lectures the Queen's at Hall of Cambridge Univcrsitr.in 1933, and the effect theyhad on their audience: He had only to point to a passoge a picturt ard to nlurnilff itr tlrcword "plastici4;'a114 nurgicnl a nnttosphcrc created. was Hc ktoked a fasting.friar likc with a roperound hiswaist itt spiteof hisevettittg dress: religionoJ' cont,ictiorts. the his "Slirle, plcase," said.And tlrcrewnsthcpictttclrc Rernbrandt, Chardin, Poussin, Cizatnrc-in blackand yvhite uponthescrrcn. pointetl. His lorrg And the lccturer v,and, trenrblirtg tlrcarturnctof sonte like ntirauilouslysensitive insect, sonte sequence; settled uponsonrc"rhytlt,rr'torrttrttse," some diogonal. And thett heh'etltotl to ,rlokctlrcaudrcrrce see-"the gem-likenotes; aquatnarirrcs; topazes tlrc and thnt lie in tlrchollowof his stttin gou,ns; hleaching lightsto tfu pall<trs." evanescetft Sonrchow black-and-v,ltite the slidcon tlrcscrecn becamc rndiatrtthrottghtln' ntist,rurdtookott tltt' grain atu.l textureo.l-tlrc octtutlcnnyos. Hc nddedon the spuroJ'tlu: nlotnenlwlnt hc had.just secn asif-.litr frst tinrc.That,pcrlnps, w(1s secret his hold tlrc thc o.f ovcr ltisarulitttce. Tlrcycould sec scnsotiott the and strikc of So fornt;lrccoild lay ltaretlrcveryntontent perception. with pnuses spurtsthc worlclof spiritualreolityenrergecl nncl in slide{ter slide-in Poussin, Chnrdin,in Renfurandt, itt in Clznnnc-in itsuplands oll tntd itslowlands, connectcd, all sonrchov, rnadewlnle ond t:ntirc,upon thegreatscreett tltt irt Hall. Queen's Fry'sconr.iction that aesthetic experiencc couldbe communicated bringinganother perceive work'sorganic by to a unity,and its accompanying feature "plasticity," to a st1'le of led ofverbalexposition fbcused exclusively the formalcharactcr on ofa givenrvork.Consequently, writing hasbeenlabeled his "fbrmalist." Tryingto conveyFry'spursuitof perceptual imr-ncdiacy, Woolf recounts wordsaboutlookingat 1-rictures: his "l spentthe afternoonin the Lor.rr.re.tried to forgetall mv idears I it and theories and to look at everything thoughI'd nevcrseen as before.. . It's only so that one canrnakediscoveries..Each .. . to rvorkmust be a nen'anda nameless It is possible experience." "nervand nameless it.l discover expcrience" Fry'scaptr-rre this of thc essavs lvrote,someof which arecollcctedin \tisiotratul he (I926). Dcs(rr(I920) and Trans.formntirnrs

Roger Fry (1866-1934) and the Bloomsbury Group thc supporter ofadr.anced ndoubtedly mostpassionate | | world at the paintingin the English-speaking \J French 'beginning thetwentieth wasthe Britishartistand of century "Manet he Frv.It n'as rvho,with his 1910 exhibition criticRoger at and the Post-lmpressionists" the Grafton Gallery,first introducedthe rvork ofCdzanne, van Gogh,Gauguin,Seurat, Matisse, othersto an incredulousLondon public, in the and 'process coiningthe now-familiarterm "Postimpressionism." ile followedthe showwith a secondin 1912, againat the Grafton Gallery,, "The Second Post-lmpressionist Exhibition." i' Fry wasone of the most prominent men-rbers of the


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.,Bloomsbun'Group, shiftingcommunity of artistsand rvriters a :. in london during the openingdecades the twenticth century of ..?l ',, that included the novelistVirginia Woolf and her husband l::'.,konard; sister, painterVanessa her the Bell,and Bell'slover Granti the Strachey , .Duncan brothers,James and Lytton, both ' .,.irriters; and the economist john lvlaynard Keynes. aestheticism passion avant-garde and for Frenchart , ,.;,1:i ffs i. .. -:'f,66q6{ part of the Group'smodel for a life devotedto the .


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and As ,,Thu,.*alysis of scnsation of consciousness. the poet Stcphen Spender described ,,Not to regarcl French it: the " funPressionist post-lmpressionist and paintersassacrosanct, tlot to bean agnosric in politics and a Liberalwith Socialist bantrps,wasto put <,ncself outsideBloomsbury.,, his l gjg In . yy EarlyBr'licfr,"Kevnes rried ro conveythe sensibility i. Ty .r Group: ''! -ot{he mafterecl cxct,pt s of ntind,oLtrojrn anrl otlrcr state : . f: : 31j"S k't ofcourse,l,ur dicJll, our orrrr.ThesesttttesoJ ttirtd I:;i.. : f,rs ' ".: .'. 4ot associatetl It octton \rt or ncltieyentert v,itlt or TIrcycotrsisted tinrcless, irt passiorrnte oJ sttttes ,t.:r:|., .,,Y|"ence.s. rrand conw r u i on, Iarge11,n tt tr nttnclt tl t o e ..:,1,,. -...Y\htio q?ore"antl "after." ..ii; ,.,.. Tltcir vtilttc rli-pende,l, (lccoftlLlrcc in '.,,j : .}:t tfte principle org(uncr!ttit),,ot1tlte state o.f o.faJfairsastt ,,, wholcwhich could ntotbc use.fiill' nnall,zcd into parts." ir-..;r:::. .. r.{!..


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from irnyline of dernarcation) chc'rsen a point of cleparture, as myriad dots beingpatientlyaddedin a sequence preordained the "law of contrasts," Nlatisse found out that he could not fott_l this myopic,incremental procedure. is madeclearby oneof As
few unfinished canvases from ]; Madame Matisse[3], Matisse, like Czanne,works on ull areas$ the Fauve season, portrait

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his pictureat onceand distributes color contrasts that his so ther echo all over the surface(note, fcrr example,the rvay the trir* orange/green-ocher/red-pink is disseminated callsin turnfor ar.rd variousneighboring greens). Thereis a gradual process, besure, to but it concerns levelof color saturation: color harmony the a ir determined first in a subduedntode (it was at this point that at Portrait oJMadameMafl-sse interrupted),then it is heated was ut. all parts of the canvas being simultaneously brought to a higher pitch. Would the public of the Salon d'Automne have found The Woman with the Har lessoffensiveif Matissehad shownwith it this abandoned work?Would the piercingdabsof vermilioq the palettelike fan, the rainbow mask of the face,the harlequil background, dissolution the veryhat'sunity into a shapelesl the of bouquet,the teiescoped anatomy,as seenthrough a zoom lens_ would all this have seemed lessarbitraryto the laughingcrowd if Matissehad allowedthem a glimpseat his rvorkingmethod? Nothing is lesscertain.The Open Vrindow[4], nor,v perhaps the most celebrated the Fauvecanvases, no lessdecried the of was at

2 . Henri Matisse,The Womanwith the Hat,1905 O cnc anv as 8 l 3 x 6 0 3 1 3 2 x 2 3 . t )

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What one witnesses in Matisse's first Fauve output is the progressiveabandonrnent the divisionist of brush-stroke: Matisse retains fion-rSigrrac's tutoring the useof pure color and the organization of the picture plane through contrasts complementary of pairs (this is what ensures picture's the coloristic tension), but he relinquishesthe most easilyrecognizable common denominatorof (ldzanne and Seurat: their search a unitary n.rode notation fbr of (the pointillist dot, the constructive stroke) that could be used inciifferentlv the figures for and the ground.And othermajor traits of Postimpressionism summoned:from Gauguin and van are Gogh, flat, unmodulatedplanesof nclnrnimetic color and thick contourswith a rhythnt of their olvn; from van Gogh'sdrawir.rgs, a differentiation the effectof linear marksthrough variations of in theirthickness theircloseness one another; and to from C6zanne, a conception the pictorialsurface a totalizing of as fieldwhereever.,tthing, eventhe unpainted white areas, playsa constructive role in bolstering energv the ofthe picture. The rnornentwhen N{atisse "gets"Cdzanne-and stopsmerely tryrng to irnitate him, as he had done in the past-is also his far*vell to the tedium of pointillism:while Signac hrrdadvocated fillingthe composition outrvard from anv area(or rrore preciselv,

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Salon, yet it is iessaggressive and than the others,and more transparentabout its procedures: is it easyto sort out the pairs of complementary colorsthat structureit, makeit vibrateand visually expand, that orderour gaze and neverto stop at any givenpoint. Shortlvafter the Fauve salon, Matisse,reflectingupon his achievement the past of few months, stumbled upon an axlom thatwouldremain onehis guidelines his life.It canbe summa_ ali ,,o;. the statement, is ;;;; or any blLre not ;;;; "':1or asblueasa square meterof the same blue,,, and indeed,speaking aboutthe red planes of hrsInterior at Collioure(The Siesttt)tron

Matissewould marvel at the fact that, although they i^ -1nol*l tooked be ofa to differenthue,they had all beenpaintedstraight outof thesame tube.Discovering color relations above in u'oodcuts the beginning of that all rvorkingon a series black-and-white are relations a ma;or step.Struckby a statement of 1906, and then set himself up to apply or to verif it in was fltt-guuntity t.a. .i"r, rhefoundatio,rur lt: .:t:;' ;;; t]" LeB onheur vi vre[51. de u,riiy" \|

that in his rvork,and to drawing,he had beencomplaining Signac bv particularly'n Luxe,cttlnrc volupt(,so cherished the older et eacl-r weresplit and evencontradicting artist,the two components "qualitv quantity,"ashe often other.Now, tl-rrough equation his the it, he understood why for Cdzanne traditionalopposition irut annulled:sinceany betweencolor and drarvingwas necessarily singlecolor can be modulatedby a mere changeof proportiol.t, is surface in itself a coloristicprocedure. any divisionof a plair-r "What countsmost with colorsarerelationships. Thanksto them coloredwithout there can and therr alonea drawir.rg be intensely In being any needfor actualcoior," wrote Matisse. fact,it is very probable that Matissemade this discoveryabout color while

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A p a r r i ci de p a in t in
The largestand most ambitious work he had painted so far, LeBonheur yivreconstituted soleentry at the 1906Salon de his des Ind6pendants. monthsafterthe Fauve Six scandal, stakes the were high:it rvas or nothing,and Matisse all carefully plannedhis comp<.rsition the most academic in fhshion, establishing the decor first fion.r sketches madeat Collioureand thenplanting, oneby one,the hgures groupsoffigures or that he hadstudied separately. ifthe But elaboration this vastmachine of had beenacademic, resultr,vas the not.Neverhadflat planes unmodulated of purecolorbeenusedon sucha scale, with suchviolent clashes primarv hues;neverhad of contoursso thick, also paintedin bright hues,dancedsuch free arabesques; never had anatomiesbeen so "defbrmed," bodies melting together as if made of ntercury-except perhaps in Gauguin's prints,which Matisse had revisited during the summer. \Vith this bombshell, wanteddefinitively rurn overa pageof he to the Westerntradition of painting.And to makesurethat one got the nressage, rei'forced it by rneans a ciinnibalistic he .f trttack at thc iconclgraphic level.

Scholars have painstakinglypursued the vast array of sources that Matisse convoked ir-r this canvas. Ingres is predomi (he had a retrospective the 1905 Salon d'Automne, with his at The TurkishBath and The GoldenAge prominently displayed), al 'f itian,Giorgione, is the Postimpressionist quartet; but Pollaiuolo, Agostino (,arracci, Cranach, Poussir.r, Watteau, puvis de Chavannes, MauriceDenis, and many more painters alsoir.rvited to are this ecumenicalbanquet. New guestskeep being discovered; the wholepantheonof Westernpaintingseems be quoted-back to to theveryorigin,since evenprehistoric cave paintingcanbe traced in the contoursof the goatson the right. This medlevof sources goeshand in hand with the stylistic disunityof the canvas the and discrepancies scale-yet further rulesof the pictorialtradition of that Matisse deliberately upsets. And that is not a1l: behindthe paradisiacal inragery the frolickof ing nymphs, behindthe happvtheme(the foy of Life),the painting hasa somberring to it. For if the pastoral genreto ivhich the canvas refers established direct connection between physical beautv, a visualpleasure, the origin of ciesire, wasalsobased a solid and it or-r ar-rchoring sexual of difference-somethingthat,asNlargaret Werth

1 9 0 6 | P o s t i mp re ssi o n sm's l e gacy to Fauvism

ways. herein countless werth starts by perturbs trlatisse sho$,n, h.rs the flutist, onll'malefigurein thepainttheshepherd that ohsr.rring as then initiallvbeenconceived a femalenude;s1-re notes irq, harl largenude in the of the other flutist, tl-re tharthc scilral attributes that all femalein a study,weresup'ressed; alsrl firrcg,rounrl, clearly or but havecounterPalts form couples, that all of either thefigurcs and the "Ingresque" nude standing the tl'on.r shepherd nr-apart rhe (Theculmiat theleft,gazing the spectator-:rrede-anatomized' on by on assault the body is proYided the couple of nirtion thissadistic sexound, two bodies-olle of indetcrntinate in kissing the fbregr head')The montagelike nature of with r.irrualh,melded a singie transitions" that are"character'"vith rheconrposition, "disjunctive leads Werth to construct a or hallucination," images of isric dreanr interpretationof the painting as a phantasmatic psvchoanahtic image conjuring up a scriesof contradictory a \crcen, polysernic infantilesexuality to corresponding the polymorphous drives sexual (narcissism' auto-eroticism, sadism, exhibiuncovered thatl-reud around the Oedipuscompiexand that revolves catalog tionisrn )-a c as n th cco nc onr it ant t r ati oa n x i e ty .

At all levels(forrnal,stylistic, thentatic), the paintilg is parricidal. The dancers Lc Bonheurde yiyrecelebrate definite of the topplingof a dreaded authority-that of the academic legiscanor.r latedbv the Ecole Beaux-Arts. Matisse us know that the des But let resultingfreedon-r r.rot is without risks,fbr lvhoc-ver kills the symbolicfatheris leftrvithoutguidance must endlessly and his reinvent own art in order to keep it alive.As such,this canvas opensthe gates twer.rtieth-century of art.
F T J BT !EB R EAD IN G R oger Benj am i n M atr s s es 'l i ol es c f aPantl et C ti ttc s r r tT ttea'/ ar ,dC )a t i i e x1 d 9 1 , 1 9 A 8 ! ( AfnAr bor U M i l es ea'c hP.es s 1987i C ather i neC .Boc k H er r i M ar s s ear dl \eoi r r ,or es s i on/s m 789,i 1908l An n A rb o r U N 4 l R es ear c fPr es s I 981) Yve-Alain Bois. [,,{at ar.l Arche dr;]vr'ir_q. sse Par)tDq ar iva,le {Ca[ri:rdg,..l,,,1ass MlT Pre:rs 19901 The B rfdlfg Octobe/ no 68. Sprifg 1994 and On l\y'ai,sse Judi Freeman (ed.),Ihe farve lai rds.rape{NewYorkrAblrevre Pr-.ss 1990) R i c har dShi ff N 4i i r K l oi f l ,y 'ater al tv r T heC ez ar neF i i ec tr ntl r - .T '/r 'e f t e t h O e f t u ry l x N n Fe Baulnannei a. Cezanne Ftnt..lt-.d,/U/rfr)si iosll ldern Fllt f atl-.Ca,rtzVeriall 20001 re.J Margaret Werth. Enqendernglrnagrnary N4ode.nlsm Hef r lu4atrssBon/,.err/ //vre ' de -c Ger der s r o 9 Aui ur nn1990

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declared Matisse y picturethrew me out onto the streetsl" impromPtu visit' by to a friend who was surprised his preparthis friendhad left him carefuliy daysearlier Two vorvingto lock himself groceries, ing his materialand,stockpiling he an in up for ir n.ronth orderto realize importantcommission had just received-and now Matissefelt he could not add a single 'l'hepicture in question was stroketo his hastilvbrushedcanvas. "in a Still Life t I l, both painted vllle Still Life or Spanish either Se in whilethe artistlvasresting Spain'"This 1910 fever"in December would latersayof the pair' man," Matisse is the work of a nervous paintingin his entire no thereis perhaps more agitated and incleed two stilllifes' productionthanthese clf The circr.rmstances their making are worth recalling'Coming from a trip to Munich, lvherehe had goneto see elated backto Paris the first major exhibition everdevotedto Islamic art, Matissewas critical response 1 . Henri Matisse, Spanish Stiil Life,1910-11 confrontedlvith an almost unanimouslynegative he Musicl3l,thecanvases had sentto the 1910 O on c anv as , 89 x 1 16 ( 35 x 45 /,,) to Dancell t2land art for Salond'Autornne,the annualshowcase contemporary estabor to wherefor a wholemonth he wasunabie sleep years earlier(his solesupporterwasthe poetGuillaume for Suain. lishedseven for commission two still latest Shchukir-r's There,he received By r Apollinaire,fbr rvhom he felt no sympathy). then he wasusedto paid), as well asthe news (rvhichwould be very handsornely on turmoil surroundinghis work, to someextenteventhriVing sr.rch in Masichadarrivedsaf'ely Moscow ("I hopeto DanceII and hit it; but this time the hostileconsensus him hard' Not only did it rvrote). Shchukin catch Matisseat a moment when he lvas particularlyfragile (his to like them one dav," Ratherthan taming his style for the nerv comnlission,Mat it fatherhad died a dayafterhis return to Paris), alsohad an immedione and faithful patron, the Russian took a hugegamble-a true "all or nothing"-in carrving most collrageous ate effecton his profusion that to the two large features the extreme,namely the decorative collector SergeiShchukin,who had commissioned such vears, many of his works from the previous following their progress characterized paintings and had been enthusiastically alreadybelongedto Shchukitt" which from atar. Shchukin arrived in Paris in the midst of this public the 1908 Harmony in Rerl, the to accept As if he had nothing to lose (rvhich was very far tiom being uproar, and, balking, decidedat the eleventhhour not conceptlon to ref'used retreattoward the neoclassical Nlatisse case), borrowedhis studioto injury, his dealers them. (Addingto Matisse's rvarninghis rr'ere it by represented Puvis: is asifhe instead, ofthe decorative displaythe rvork they had convincedShchukinto purchase patron-lvho had suddenlvbecomeworried about the nudityot sketchfor a mural by Puvisde Chavannes') the largegri-saille rvhatwii: calledat the II Feelir-rg guilty on his u'ay back to Moscolv, Shchukin sent a the figurestn Dartce and Mrtslc,and about be justas II and askingfot Dance and Mtrsic time their "Dionysian" character-that a still lite could his rescinding decision telegram Sevilld that' in proposing One couldevenargue visually disquieting. the by follorved a lettercanceling purat to be shipped greatspeed, after imr.r-rediatell' thetwo to Still welkness' StillLife and spttnish LtJ-e Shchukin for of chase the Puvisanclapologizing his n.romentary collectorhad found so hard to slvallow'Nlattss'" the lvas panels Russian Tl.reimntediateclangerof the end of Shchukin'ssLlpport one tlvo modes-one austere' between alternating over wasdeliberately \"{ulling about-faces. by was but arverted, ltlatisse shaken these of the that they rveretwo sides he of and the treacherv art dealers, lefi swarming-as if to dernonstrate of tl.re fickleness collectors
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same coin.The prior holdingsof the ShchukinCollectionsuggest thatthis mighthave beena consistent strategy the part of Matisse on {compare sparse the 1908Gameof BowLs the 1909Nymph and and .ktyrwith Harmony Red,bought in shortlybeforethe still-lifecommission); Shchukin's and subsequent purchases followedthe same pa[ern (compare austerel9l2 Conversatiotlwith painter's the l/rc Family ThePink Stuclio 191 bought at the sametime or of 1, ).

dwindles sobrietyof this largecomposition.But this difference For onceactual scale takeninto consideration. rvhenconfronted is color,and fcetof saturated with Muslc's one hundred-plus square once surface, on its friezeof five musicians evenlydistributed the eitherone tries againone stumbles upon an aporiaof perception: of to contemplate figures the one by one but cannotdtt so because or, the sheercoloristicsutrmons of the rest of the canvasi conat versely, one attemptsto take in the vast surface a glancebut cannot prevent the optical vibrations that are causedb,'-the


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figures'vermilion forms as they clashwith the blue-ar.rd-green Hath.,Sa,i/le Life and Srill Spanislt ground from deflecting our graspof the visualfield. Figureand Still Lifeare difficult to beholdthatis, the viewercannot gazeat their pullulating arabesques of annul eachother in a crescendo energiesand ground constantly colorflashes very for long.As had alreadvhappened Le Bonltettr that is,theveryoppositior.r is perceptior-rbased upon whichhumat.r in tf-t-* but now m uch m o re s o , th e s e a i n ti n g s destabilized-and our vision ends up blurred' p l a p p e ar o spl n is deliberately before el/e; the nothingthereeverseems come to rest.Flowers, blindedbv excess. to pots pop up like bubbles in in This "aesthetic blinding"wasalready place 1906-it was of that dissolveinto their busy, ::t:'*.d Ua.ct<groundquickly as during the heydal'of as one manages isolatethem. the resultof Matisse's negotiations, complex to ffjlf8 rne centrality of the figure is dismantled:the vierverfeelscom- rFauvism, rvith the iegacy Postin-rpressionism. it assumed a But of a lookat . , . r y n h ,n g upon it a t o n c e , t th e w h o l ev i s u a lfi etd,but reflected Matisse at a new urgency around 1908, which tin-re Tl l " time fecls 'r mf $ame forcedto rely on peripheralvision to do so,at artisone of the most articulate in his famous"Notesof a Painter," lheltpense of controloverthat very There,amongotherthings, century. field. tic n.ranifestosthe trventieth of this turbulence aimingfor as that he rv.is with Music t3t. At first sight Matisse of defined diffraction the gaze the JT::Tli* "Expressitln, me,doesl.tot fbr the coreof his concept expressiot.t: of

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to the traditionalregimeof mimetic identificationwasno longer available option (on thispoint he wasconcurring with Picasso). expressive: placeoccupiedby the figures,the empty spaces pi cture s not the depi cti on a bucol i c the i ol scene, is it an a nor around them, the proportions, everl,thing its share." other What are thesehuge creatures has In doing, feedinga turtle they do rvords,ashe would keepsayingall his life, "expression and decora- evenlook at?We cannotunderstand motive of their action the tion areoneand the same thine." more than they seemable to communicateit among them The spectator left to ponder over the enigmatic"expression" is the standing nudeor that ofher seated neighbor.But no clueis M a t i sse n swe r s younger icasso a the P by their surroundings. the frrsttime in Matisse's For work the Many factorscontributedto the suddenacceleration Matisse's is reduced to modulated bands of plain color. as in Bvza of art and theoretical sophistication 1908.One of them, perhaps mosaics: in greenfor the grass, for blue for the water,blue-green the most important,washis competitionwith Picasso. the fall sombersky-a cipherof a landscape, In frontally facingus.This is rof 1907he had seenles Demoiselles d'Avignon, Picasso's direct uninhabitable world, into which we arenot invited. . answerto both his Le Bonheurde yiyreand his Blue Nucle. The Shchukinhad perceived profoundmelancholy this the of paintinghad madeMatisse uneasy) part because had carried in it primitivismfurtherthan any of his own previous attempts, and he hadto respond. and,saddened that it had beensold to anothercollector, he Matissefor a substitute.That rvasto be Gameof Bou,Is, far a powerfulpainting,but indicativeof the directionMatisse's rvas take.The "landscaDe" asbareas in Bathers to is with a T (though the color spectrumis much lighter), but now

residein passions glowing in a human faceor manifested a by violent movement. The entire arrangementof my picture is

His first reply was the largeBathers with a Turtle [4], one of his barest (the and eeriest canvases primitivism of the central,standing nude has beennoted by all commentators). CounteringPicasso's rhyhrns set the compositionin motion (the three dark-h '\{edusa effect,"\{atisse turned the glareof his giant nuclesaway heads the plavers of being ironicall,v echoed their three by 1t'om beholder-but not without signaling fhg that a simpleretreat bowls). There are no mvsterious expressions here:the d
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concern; areno iongerMatisse's Lts of picrsstr's Dct.rtoiselles laccs written in shorthand'The visual are pf thg borvlers ,i* ,nurur.r itrnction was Still embryonic in Batherswith a rr,hose *'.n', -Turtlaisnorr the tr'hrtuni6es callvas' - -The first fully sucin Red l5l' Matisse's \\'as next stc'P Httnnony his lifelong pictorial proglam: of realization rvhatwould be ccs*fuI reboundsfrom it; a compositionso gaze that our so s,Urface tense in rippledrvith echoes al1directions,that we cannot r so dispcrsed, a mazeso energeticthat it alwa)'sseemsto s|zeatrt selectivell'; made one last attempt at painting in .\latisse Lrnd laterallr'. mode in his Nymph and Satyr of late 1908 niasro', centripetal one of his very few paintingswith a violent for {ggain Shchukin), exception (matchedonly by a &rme. But this rvasto remain an on the same theme rries of drawingsand unfinished canvases ceramic of for TheStatiotts the Cross and ftom 1935, by the studies p4lel in theVenceChapelfrom 1949):afterit, n'ewill not be asked

to look at an actionfrom a distance; instead, u'ill be confror.rted we with a wall of paintingforcingits colorsaturation onto us. A certain form of violenceis implied by this kind of address. Todav,afterso manv pages praisingMatisseasthe painter of "happiness"(or, conversely, beratinghis "hedonism"),the particular qpe of aggressiveness embedded his art is somewhat in veiled.But the fiercelynegative response that he received the time-which at kept accelerating from the receptionof Luxe,calmeet voluptl at the 1905SalondesInddpendants, through the Fauvescandal 1905 of and the criesthat greeted Bonheur vivrein 1906and BlueI'hde Le de in 1907,to the nearly universalcondemnation of Dance Il and Musicrn 1910-is a clearindicationthat he wastouchinga sensitive nerve.What becameobviousin the caseof the receptionof these last two works is that it was precisely Matisse's conceptionof the "decorative"that was perceived a slapin the faceoftraditionas the tradition of paintingaswell asthe tradition of beholding.


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r.rotionof the "decorative."Looking at it, we are condemne4 endless motion, forbiddento let our gazeeverbreakthe ci from this The round of its feverish arabesque. only escape had done,panickedin front of frenzyis to recoil,just asMatisse own Spanishstill lifes.Yet Music is more powerful, though in subtlerfhshion,in this interdictionto join in peacefuily. this Like Picasso's Demoiselles, paintinghad begunasa Les (amongthem a woman) lookingat scene, five musicians the now all male, the In other,interacting. the final canvas, figures, rotation that Leo Steinberg undergone sameninety-degree the painting:stiltedin their pose,ignoring in cussed Picasso's other, they stareterri$'ingly at us. Matissehimself is said to
been afraid bv what he called the "siience" ofthis canvas: in




with the sweepingmovement of DanceII, in Music eveq4hing mouthsareunequi arrested. blackholesof the threesingers' The deaththan sound);the violi to callymorbid (closer signaling
5 . Henri Matisse, Harmony in Red,19Og O i l o n c an va s, I 8 0 x 2 2 0 l 7 A /' x 86 i.)


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is bow poised beforethe dorvnstroke nothingbut ominous.In review of the Salon, Yakov Tugenhold, one of the most Russian critics of the time (Shchukinpaid carefulattentionto "d H y p n o ti c e co r ations" h prcrse), described figuresof Musicas "boy werewolves the had beenquick to offer tized by the first-everstrainsof the first instruments."No dealers that not It r,vas by char.rce Matisse's Nlatisse is High expecta- rnetaphorcould betterindicatethat in this canvas for a Puvisin replacement his two panels. Shchukin had done in his "decorative" that very ing the sameFreudianterritory as Picasso at tions lverevestedin the notion of the nloment, the 1910 Salon marking the climax of the numerous scene, for, even more than les Demoiselles,Mlrslc is akin to that had been ragingon the issuesincethe turn of the r image of the Wolf-Man's dream. We have to add a proviso debates ofFrench the capable ofrestoring greatness centurv(it wasdeemed by engendered Postimpresart after the crisisof representation and Cubism).A return by and further deepened Fauvism sionisrn to Puvis-"decorative" compositionsdraped in a neoclassical rhetoric-was calledfor, but this is exactlywhat Matisserefused panels" to condone.He labeledDanceII and Music "decorative Tugenhold'smetaphor, however:it is not the musiciansbut spectators who arehlpnotized. l'his hlpnosis is basedon a penduium in our perception to makesus switchfrom our incapacity focuson the figuresto t of seizinsthe whole visual field at once,an oscillationthat concept of the "decorative," the very invention of N{atisse's

It composition. the when sending them to the Salon,and this enraged critics:the which is particularlydifficult to obtain in a sparse paintingswere not macieto soothethe eye,to gentlyadorn a wall; thus not surprisingthat Matisseshouid have preferredthe bacchanals crowded mode as a surefire means to keep the beholder's theylverethe crudeproduct of a madman,posterlike moving. It should be noted, however,that he never totally to that threatened swirl out of their frame. of wasobviouslya major cause this resis- quished the barren versior.rof the decorative, that it plaved a majot', The high-pitchedcolor mo$ key momentsof his career, role in his production at several tance, it would not havehad suchan impactif it had not beenfor but the ample scaleof the works (not only are they largebut also the notably when his rivalry with Picassolvas at st.rke.One such there in nuntber of elements they displayare reduced: eachcanvas are only frve figuresof the same"lobster" color, as lvassaid at the zones-blue for the skyand greenfor the time, and tlvo background land). In fact,the coloristic impactof Dance11and Muslc which of remainedunequriledin painting until the large canvases Mtrrk provicled clearest the r Rothkoand BarnettNewmanin the lateforties, confirmation of Matisse's principle accordingto which "a square blue." centimeter blueis less meterof thesame of bluethana square But if the arrticlassical of decenteredness these works was perceived a threat,trnd criticized Musicevenmore than in r as in of moment wasrvhenhe wastrying to learn the language Cubism' (after which he retreated Nice and into to from 1913to i9l7 of commissious an Impressionism w'henthe conjoined until 1931, of a mural on the themeof ilh.rstrated Mallarmd book ancl that of led Foundation him backto the aesthetics Dancefor the Barnes "Cubist" years workssuchas Frenth clate his youth). From Matisse's (19 I 4 ) or TheYellow I Curt(lit( c. I 9 I 5), sostrik' Winrlow Collioure in ingly similar, once again,to works by Rothko or Newman,or lllr (191 6) whoseonein( , B IueW i ndow(1913)and TheP i anoLesson



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poet atmosphere Surrealist Andr6Bretonfound soappeaiing' the The'"vorks imrlecliatelyfbllowing DanceIl and Mlrslc,however' II, Dattce it is alsobecause finailvfound a means r'vith them Matisse sril Spanish After the ttvo "nervoLts" in to emnlate properlv, though rvith different means, Picasso's swr-rng the otherdirection. [rrterttt.t . irpotropaic stance Les the in Demoiselles Althoughit isjust as litescan-re famouslargeinteriors of I 911, The Rc,lSttt,lio' cl'Avignon. The Pink Sntlb, and The Ptrhter's Fatnttv btrreas Music, Donce partakes the rrrofirse 11 in mode of Matisse's x,ith Eggplants 16l,
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two immediately purchased Shchukin). by frenetic l.ess 1,t'"ry, ttran pictures the doneat Seville, and considerably larger,they cxplore same the isotropic universe expansion. TheRed in In Studio, r obnochrome of bath redness floods field,annulling the even the of contour (whichexists only negatively, unpainted, as Tfttt
to themostviolent color contrasts, suchasthe oppositicln the unmitigated blackdress the standingfigure and the of *y Un* book sheholds; in Interior witlt Eggplants, most ffn-t the but mostradicalwork of the series, YTt* eveqthing cooperL"aing usastrav: Toin rh

and differentscales fabrics; gestures the ofthe trvo ofthe ornamental (one on the table,the other on the mantelpiece) that sculptures rhymewith the arabesques the foldedscreen. threeeggplants The of that givethe painting its title are right in the n-riddie the canvas, of but Matisse blindedus to them and it is only through a conhas scious effortthat we manage, only fleetingly, locatethen.r. to
F U F T H EF F F AD N G Al fr edH .Bar r ,J r . l ,4al 6s eH i :.AdandH r s Pul r r c l N ew Yor k us eum c i \4o d e rfA t 1 9 5 ' l M Ad Yve-Alain Bois 'N,4at s Batherslvrtha Tud e." Bulletinol lhe SarntLour.s MLlseon. v) 22 sse ro iJ.Sumrne'1998 Yve-AlainBois. 'On N/ai,sse: B fd fg The N 4oder r At 1q92) Jack D. Flam./,4arsseThel'.trar Hts,4d /8e9 79/8 ithace N.Y and Londof: Corfe Llnversly and Press 1986t
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