Cutting into Color: Matisse at the Tate

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The Snail

One of the highlights of my short stay in London was visiting the Matisse show at Tate Modern on Easter Sunday. Now that I think about it, Easter was the perfect day to see the exhibit. Matisse almost died following colon surgery at the age of 71. He called the period after his near-death experience his “second life” and the cut-outs exuberantly reflect his joy in a new life.

I always thought that Matisse went to cut-outs because he could no longer paint – but the audio guide make it clear that’s a common misconception.  Once he discovered he could draw directly into color with scissors he chose to give up painting to explore color in three-dimensions.

Henri Matisse_ The Cut-Outs review – _the lesson of a lifetime_ | Art and design | The Observer

One of my favorite parts of the exhibit was a case in the corner of Room 6 –  missed by many people – with the leftover bits of paper lined up to show all the colors used by Matisse.

Easter2014 Matisse Colors

Photo Credit: Mark Carswell

Gorgeous and vibrant colors even after sixty years, the colors are supersaturated with velvety, opaque gouache.

Nothing prepared me for the emotion of seeing room after room of the cut-outs in person. I’ve seen many of the 120 images in books over the years. There is no comparison. The originals are bursting with color.

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The Horse the Rider and the Clown

To see the edges so clearly – some slightly peeling away – gave each image a depth that is missing in the printed versions shown in cases below the originals. In one of his first works – Two Dancers – you can even see the tacks he sometimes used to layer the cut pieces.

Matisse Two-Dansers-detailAnother surprise was the size of some of the later pieces. Huge!

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Large Decoration With Masks
Photograph: Guy Bell/REX The Guardian

Henri Matisse big

The Parakeet and the Mermaid
AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

And then there were the glass  scraps from the stained glass windows.

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The second to the last piece in the exhibit is the full size cut-out cartoon for the last piece in the exhibit –  a stained glass window commissioned for the Time-Life building in NYC. You can’t help but compare the colors of the cut-out paper with the colors of the glass. If the original full-size cut-outs are 100% more vibrant than the printed versions – then the stained glass is 500%. Color with light! Gorgeous!

If you can’t get to London, the exhibit will travel to MOMA in the fall. Its an absolute must see!

Matisse stained glass


Links
Matisse at Tate Modern
Guardian Article: The Cut-outs Review
The Telegraph: Video

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CMY in 3D Printing


Connex-3-Color-Pallettestratasys color chart

There are a number of companies claiming to have the first full-color printer using cyan, magenta, and yellow to mix all the colors of the rainbow in three dimensions. The color charts above are from the Stratosys Object 500.

Those triangles look so familiar! I’ve been making the same thing in polymer for years. I have to say I am a bit jealous. No, not just a bit. A lot jealous!

The excitement is palpable in even the most business like articles and news stories. Design it in the morning and “print” the prototype in the afternoon! Imagine how artists will adopt the technology. The possibilities are endless! Here’s one example – a fashion collection designed by Dr. Michaella Janse van Vuuren.

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Stratasys

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3DSystems

Will 3D printing take over from hands-on sculpting and designing? Only time will tell.

What is absolutely apparent however is that the digital and printing worlds embrace the RGB |CMY model of color. And the results are stunning!

Links:
Stratasys: Inquirer Article
3
D Systems: San Paolo Announcement

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New Inner Life of Cells

Another digitally animated film showing the inner life of a cell just came out from Xvivo in collaboration with Harvard’s BioVisions program. The first film from 2006 shows an immune cell responding to an infection. It’s a beautful short film. The colors are soft and subdued and the movement slow and graceful.

The latest video in the Inner Life series portrays the frenetic energy inside a cell with more accuracy. Its rendered in much brighter colors. Both are gorgeous!

Links
Xvivo
BioVisions
New York Times: Watch Proteins Do the Jitterbug

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Munsell on My Wall

MunsellonWall1Over one hundred years ago, Albert Munsell, an artist and educator, developed a color ordering system based on visual perception rather than mathemetical formulas.  The Munsell system soon became the industry standard and is still used today to communicate and reproduce colors accurately.

I reference the Munsell system in my workshops whenever we talk about the properties of color.  I do a visualization exercise that I call the “tilted equator” to show students that pure hues have different values and demonstrate how colors flow in relationship to each other.

If you are not familiar with the system – Munsell just posted a pdf on their blog with photos of an original Atlas. You can zoom in and see the details clearly. I would love to own a copy of the original but the pdf is almost as good as having the real thing on my shelf.

About a year ago I walked into a shop on Alberta Street in Portland and saw pages from a 1915 edition of Munsell’s Atlas of Color framed on the wall. They were from a damaged book that the owners had purchased and carefully taken apart to salvage the pages still in good condition. I left without buying one of the pages and kicked myself for months.  I even went back and asked if they had any more but was told that all the framed pages were sold.

I visited the store two months ago and there were three more pages on the wall! They were able to save a few more pages of the book and had just finished framing them. I chose the Yellow – Blue Violet page, brought it home, and put it in a place of honor in my reading nook.

Some time last year I was invited to do a guest post for the Munsell blog. I ended up writing about a variety of color flow exercises in polymer and on the computer. The first post in the series was published on the Munsell site last month –  just about the time I brought home the Munsell for my wall.

MunsellonWall

Links
Atlas of the Munsell Color System PDF
Munsell Blog Post Color Flow Exercises

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Color and Light at NAEA Conference

national art education association - Google Search
I spent last weekend in San Diego at my first National Art Educators Association conference. It was huge – a three-day event with over 1000 seminars, 6000 attendees, and an exhibition hall filled with booths that included demonstrations by the major art supply manufacturers, samples from companies featuring teacher resources and talks by representatives from college arts programs around the country.

I attended many informative seminars and some wonderful Special Sessions, but I had the most fun at a workshop titled “Reinventing the (Color) Wheel: Color Mixing with LED’s.

I’ve been looking for easy ways to mix color in light in the classroom and was thrilled by the creative approach of this talented team of educators from New York.

This timely workshop is a collaboration between Doing Art Together, a non-profit arts education organization, City Technology at CUNY City College, and teachers at PS 5 and Christopher Avenue Community School in Brooklyn. Its a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) project that integrates art and science and addresses one of the hot topics at the conference – how to engage students in hands-on learning experiences that combine art with technology.

NAEAlight3In the first part of the workshop, the attendees learned about the additive system – mixing colors of light.

They connected batteries with red, green and blue LED bulbs using bulldog clips, mixed the secondary colors of cyan, magenta, and yellow, constructed a mini-stage, and played with colored shadows.

The second part of the workshop was where science meets art. Each table was given an index card with a feeling word and invited to create a stage lighting design to communicate that feeling with light.  We were given all sorts of building materials, including a sheet of poster board for the curved stage,  scissors, tape, cardstock, paper cups, pencils.

Our table’s word was “sadness.”   Here’s our design:

NAEAlight1

Here are some of the other “stages.” Can you guess the feeling?

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NAEAlight6

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how color study crosses so many disciplines – from physics, optics, chemistry, biology, anthropology, and neurology, to history, poetry, art, design and psychology. I’m sure I missed a few subject areas!

The idea of a more holistic, 21st century approach to teaching color is catching on. This workshop is a wonderful example of cross-disciplinary, observational learning. The group that designed the workshop is presenting again at the National Science Teachers Association conference in Boston this weekend.  I’m curious to hear how the science teachers like the experience of using light as an art medium. I hope they have as much fun as I did.

Members of the Team
Jenn Brehm | Teaching Artist, Doing Art Together
Cheribum Cannon | Teacher, PS 5 in Brooklyn
Anja Hernandez | Project Coordinator, City Technology at CUNY City College
Jody Hilton | Science Teacher, Christopher Avenue Community School in Brooklyn
Heather-Marie Montilla | Executive Director, Doing Art Together
Rute Ventura | Teaching Artist, Doing Art Together

Links
Doing Art Together
City Technology
National Art Educators Association
National Science Teachers Association

Feelings in the photos above: Sadness, Fear, Anger, Love

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