Economy of Line

kma_after-r-b-skira_by-henrimatisseThere is something so very elegant about Henri Matisse. He can take a line and magically turn it into a portrait so recognizable that only a few strokes of his pen are necessary. This French master was known to have said: “If I trust my drawing hand it is because in training it to serve me, I forced myself never to let it take precedence over my feelings.” And so thanks to the Katonah Museum of Art, we are allowed to see a collection of 45 Matisse drawings curated by Ellsworth Kelly, a more contemporary artist who greatly admired Matisse. Kelly explained his affinity by saying, “Matisse made me want to draw.” Indeed Henri Matisse drew throughout his long life which ended at the age of 84 in 1954, leaving a repository of graceful examples of his craftsmanship. Matisse Drawings: Curated by Ellsworth Kelly from The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation Collection is organized by the American Federation of Arts and the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum in collaboration with The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation. The exhibition which includes Kelly’s botanical prints from the 1960s, will be on view at the Katonah Museum of Art through January 29th.

Mount Holyoke College Art Museum Director John Stomberg says about Matisse, “His particular gift was an economy of line. A majority of what Matisse communicates with his drawings he achieves through implication rather than replication.” While the drawings of Matisse and Kelly are very different in style, they do share the extraordinary gift of an economy of line. This is one of those wonderful art experiences where the lines are so minimal and well-chosen that all the viewer is expected to do is fill in the blanks.

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