The National Gallery of Australia is holding a Matisse and Picasso exhibition at the moment (link). The introduction to the exhibition noted:

Matisse & Picasso is the first exhibition in Australia to tell the story of the artistic relationship between two of Europe’s greatest twentieth-century artists. Henri Matisse (1869–1954) and Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) met in 1906 and for more than half a century followed each other’s creative developments and achievements. The sustained rivalry between them was not only key to their individual success, it also changed the course of 20th century Western European art. The exhibition included paintings that will be on display in Australia for the first time. The exhibition features more than 60 paintings and sculptures drawn from public and private collections internationally and in Australia.

What I particularly enjoyed about the exhibition was the juxtaposition of both artists and the narrative evident in their sustained rivalry over a long period of time. I was impressed by both artists’ desire to innovate. It was wonderful seeing so many of their paintings and illustrations. Themes in the exhibition linked to:

  • Different worlds
  • The battle over Cubism
  • Reshaping space
  • Designing for dance
  • The past as the future
  • Exotic worlds
  • Radical chic and the cult of the ugly

One of the program notes indicates that “over time, Matisse and Picasso no longer felt the need to compete to be first with the newest and most radical ideas” and added “each artist now had the freedom to exercise their imagination”. This transition fascinated me.

I believe the art world has a great deal to offer sport analysts. Doctors have included visits to galleries in their training years to learn about observation (link).

As I left the Matisse and Picasso exhibition I came across an indigenous art exhibition about belonging. In the write up about the exhibits, there was a quote from Charles Perkins. He suggested “we know that we cannot live in the past but the past lives in us”. This is what I think going to a gallery does for us. We are able to look carefully at our present and future by understanding we are part of a story.

Photo Credits

Portraits of Henri and Pablo from the exhibition images.


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