The Parakeet and the Mermaid

‘It was like drawing, but with scissors… there was sensuality in the cutting’

Parrot-and-Mermaid
La Perruche et la Sirène (The Parakeet and the Mermaid) is one of the greatest examples of Henri Matisse’s cut-out works. The cut-out is technically related to the collage. Matisse executed this work by snipping forms from paper coloured in one hue. The total work contains cut-out forms in contrasting colours on a white surface. He began this method in 1940, but in his last years this medium dominated all his work. The imagery of this piece consists of leaves, pomegranates and two forms that appear only once. These two forms represent a parakeet on the left and a mermaid on the right side, from which the title of the work derives. The space surrounding the objects is just as important as the objects themselves. Matisse created this monumental cut-out while recuperating from a major operation which prevented him working in his studio. Consequently Matisse referred to this work as ‘a little garden all around me where I can walk’.

Text from The Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam

  To learn more about Matisse’s cut-outs, visit MoMA’s interactive page


Geometry

Ojeikere

Untitled. J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere. 2004.

direcciones Enio Iommi 1945

Direcciones. Enio Iommi. 1945.

popova_constcomposition (1)

Constructivist Composition. Lyubov Popova. 1921.


Formas Continuas

Formas Continuas, Enio Iommi. 1948.

Formas Continuas, Enio Iommi. 1948.


Painterly Architectonic

Painterly Architectonic. Lyubov Popova. 1918

Painterly Architectonic. Lyubov Popova. 1918


Imi Knoebel

Imi Knoebel, Untitled, 1977 2 Imi Knoebel, Untitled, 1977

Untitled, Imi Knoebel. 1977


Great Australian Bight

Great Australian Bight. Philip Sutton. 1966

Great Australian Bight. Philip Sutton. 1966


Wild Hair

These stunning photographs are from the Hairstyle Series by the late Nigerian phototagrapher J.D. Okhai Ojeikere :

J.D. Okhai OjeikereJ.D. Okhai Ojeikere3J.D. Okhai Ojeikere2

J.D. Okhai Ojeikere4

Hairstyles-by-Photographer-J-D-Okhai-Ojeikere-18

J.D. Okhai Ojeikere6

J.D. Okhai Ojeikere5


Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation

In this wonderful series of photographs by Aaron Siskind the artist captures figures suspended in mid air, their bodies contorted into different shapes. Charles Traub, president of the Aaron Siskind Foundation, says about the series:

“I remember quite clearly Aaron’s delight at the Chicago waterfront, where these images were taken. He was particularly enamored of teenagers—their unabashed frolicking and daring, their inherent athleticism. Aaron loved ordinary people—the sights, sounds, and activities that were off the beaten path of the city. In the summer, the Chicago lakefront was a place where everybody gathered. He adored such places that were full of spontaneous and inventive activity.”

Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation # 37. Aaron Siskind. 1953.

Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation # 37. Aaron Siskind. 1953.

Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation. Aaron Siskind. 1953-61

Pleasures and Terrors of Levitation. Aaron Siskind. 1953-61

 


Photopurism

Photopurism (World of the Soul). Frantisek Drtikol. 1934.

Photopurism (World of the Soul). Frantisek Drtikol. 1934.


The Numinosity of Clouds

Creative exercise: Spend long periods of time contemplating tea stains on a napkin or clouds in the sky. Imagine magnificent creatures and landscapes, let your imagination run wild!

“I love the clouds… the clouds that pass…
up there… up there… the wonderful clouds!”
[The Stranger, Charles Baudelaire]

***

And if you’re a hard-core cloud lover, you might even consider joining the Cloud Appreciation Society!

Here’s a peek from their manifesto:

We pledge to fight ‘blue-sky thinking’ wherever we find it. Life would be dull if we had to look up at cloudless monotony day after day.

Now let’s look at some Clouds in Art:

Berndnaut Smilde

Dutch artist Berndnault Smilde is known for his man-made indoor clouds. He makes them from a combination of “frozen smoke” and moisture and he immortalises them in photographs.

Nimbus. Berndnaut Smilde. 2012.
Nimbus. Berndnaut Smilde. 2012.
Nimbus. Berndnaut Smilde. 2012.
Nimbus. Berndnaut Smilde. 2012.

John Baldessari

Clouds have featured in many of this Californian artist’s work. He’s represented the cloud as a brain, and he’s tried to mimic the shapes of clouds using cigar smoke.

Brain Cloud. John Baldessari. 2009.
Brain Cloud. John Baldessari. 2009.
Brain/Cloud (Two Views): With Palm Tree and Seascapes (made especially for the LACMA edition of Pure Beauty). John Baldessari. 2009.
Brain/Cloud (Two Views): With Palm Tree and Seascapes (made especially for the LACMA edition of Pure Beauty). John Baldessari. 2009.
Cigar Smoke to Match Clouds that are the same. John Baldessari. 1973-1973.
Cigar Smoke to Match Clouds that are the Same. John Baldessari. 1973-1973.

Vik Muniz

Brazilian artist Vik Muniz created the wonderful series, Equivalents, where he photographed cotton wool clouds in various different shapes. Can you picture them in the sky?

Equivalents Series, Kitty. Vik Muniz. 1997.
Equivalents Series, Kitty. Vik Muniz. 1997.
Equivalents Series, Teapot. Vik Muniz. 1997.
Equivalents Series, Teapot. Vik Muniz. 1997.
Equivalents Series, Pig. Vik Muniz. 1997.
Equivalents Series, Pig. Vik Muniz. 1997.

René Magritte

And, of course, there’s the Belgian Surrealist artist, René Magritte. Clouds were a recurring theme in his work and are said to represent the unconscious mind. He was known for his witty and thought-provoking images which challenged preconditioned perceptions of reality.

The Future of Statues. René Magritte. 1937.
The Future of Statues. René Magritte. 1937.
La Magie Noire. René Magritte. 1945.
La Magie Noire. René Magritte. 1945.