Details 2: Matisse’s glass

Every time I get to the Museum of Modern Art my favorite place is the gallery of paintings by Henri Matisse. He always amazes me. I always find something new. This time, one of those things was just a small item in The Red Studio, 1911:


This is an amazingly advanced work, 104 years old. I’ve seen it perhaps three dozen times. But I think I got caught up in the overall idea of the composition, never looking at the details. Never seeing that goofy wine glass in the lower right:


Looks like something from Walt Disney. How did Matisse manage to get something so funny into what I’ve always thought of as a “serious” painting?

Then, a little bit later at MOMA, I was looking at Gilbert & George: The Early Years and ran into another goofy glass:


That was a “wow!” moment of recognition. And then, back at home, I came across this glass that I bought at an art student sale back when I was a student at Portland State, about 1971:

My Matisse glass

Goofiness comes in threes.



Details, details

Living in Portland, Oregon, I’m lucky to have been able to make it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art just about every year. The masterpieces have become familiar, and I find that I now am attracted to looking at little things like coins, silver work, and other small articles in display cases. There’s amazing little stuff.

This big thing below is made up of little things—small carved bone panels—and I’ve walked right by it for decades, probably. A couple months ago I paused to look it over and was amazed by the imagery. I don’t know what is going on in these little panels—that would take some study that I’m probably never going to do. But if you are at The Met, check this out.

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Who are these folks? Where are they going? How about that crane lifting/dropping the person into the boat? I like the trees, too.

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Who is this person with all the babies? And what’s with the deer? Not Romulus and Remus.IMG_4138 a

And Big Bird being carried on a litter? (Nice detail of shutters in the windows above.)

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And this is really strange:

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Yeah, take some time to check out the little things. You just never know.