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Modern Art For The PaperStore - April 1999 Introduction Its been said that Matisse was no more an abstract artist than Picasso No abstract painter can claim descent from their work without acknowledging that fact The worldly motif especially the human body and in particular the female body was as basic to Matisses art as it had been to Delacroixs or Titians His paintings vividly communicate a tension between what he called the sign and the reality it pointed to He had learned about this tension and its anxieties from Cezanne But there has never been a great figurative artist who did not feel and exemplify it It can be as poignant in Giotto or even in Poussin as it is in Cezanne or Matisse For Matisse it was of prime importance whereas in abstract art it tends to fall away because one end of the cord is no longer anchored in the world and its objects This is not an argument against abstraction but it helps explain why in those abstract paintings that derive from Matisse one so rarely feels the urgency of their great exemplarHughes 70 An individuals personal relationship to art can be dichotomized into two responses either one is repelled or one is drawn into the work It can be a symbolic interaction such as one experiences with Jasper Johns DEVISE an emotional response such has been reported with Cezannes Mont Sainte-Victoire Seen From Bibemus Quarry and Matisses Blue Nude or perhaps it is the literal interaction of stepping on a floor sculpture by Andre Whatever the individuals relationship or response the reaction is not based on the pieces similarity to anything in the traditional art world nor its lack of similarity to anything in the real world Response to the art discussed in this paper is based on an individual level and is specific to the piece Paul Cezanne In 1877 the critic Georges Riviere described him as
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