do it. create. walk and see. cut and paste. scratch and sniff.
do whatever you have to do to feed your soul.
this is my commitment.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Matisse + perfectionism

I recently visited the Matisse exhibit at the MIA.

There is so much to love about visiting a museum: the magnificence of the space, the swarms of people, the quiet hush, the art itself...

All of these experiences make a significant impression on me, ones I am extremely grateful to experience.  I will tell you what I love the most, though.  I love viewing an exhibit in the midst of what might be considered it's imperfections.

When viewing the Matisse exhibit, I loved seeing the warped or torn paper, the cracking paint.    I loved the photograph progression of the piece, The Pink Nude, and having the ability to watch as Matisse eliminated and added and eliminated and altered over and over again until the piece was perfect to his eye.  He clearly had no concern for ours.  I loved looking at his paper cuts, noticing how much more important it was to get the shape on the page than to perfect the cut itself.

When Matisse came into his own, clearly defining his own style, there seems to be nothing perfect about any of his pieces.  How liberating this can be for all of us. Look how much we can learn!

Matisse was known for changing the rules in art.

And yet isn't this what art is about?  Creating our own way?  Finding a way of expressing ourselves?  No matter what?

Sure, Matisse needed a place to start, a foundation with which to start creating and exploring.  We all do.  If you need a place to start (in order to create), start wherever.  Just keep going!
But if you feel that inner struggle of perfectionism coming through and you experience tightness and rigidity there is another way.  I make art to escape all of these tendencies and I am a firm believer that this is what art should be --- for everyone.

The last time I was this inspired, I was at the Walker Arts Center viewing a Picasso exhibit (I realize my bias here - Matisse and Picasso were colleagues).  From what I remember, the most impressionable piece (for me) was drawn with pastel on a piece of paper resembling a torn brown paper bag.

Show me more artists that push the current comfort zone of perfectionism and watch me become inspired.

How will you push yours?


  1. Thanks for this report, Kari. Matisse continues to give, and out of a heart of generosity, I feel. You are too, and I appreciate your experience.

    1. Thank you, Casey, for reading. YES to an artist of generous spirit! Of all the Matisse quotes, I left with this one: "A new painting should be a unique thing, a birth bringing a new face into the representation of the world through the human spirit. The artist should call forth all of his energy, his sincerity, and the greatest possible modesty in order to push aside during his work the old cliches that come so readily to his hand and can suffocate the small flower which itself never turns out as one expected."