Monday, September 26, 2011

How it used to be

I'm reading Hilary Spurling's brilliant biography of Matisse, The Unknown Matisse
after hearing her speak in New York last week.

She talks about the world of Matisse's childhood in a small industrial village in Northern France in the 1880s:

Men, women and children in the textile mills worked up to twelve hours a day with a single fifteen-minute break...Matisse's brutal metaphors went back to the remorseless, mind-numbing, unending drudgery he had seen on all sides as a child. Weavers had feverish eyes, pale faces and gaunt, etiolated bodies from spending all the hours of daylight shut up in cramped and often humid spaces.(p24)

He became the painter of open windows and vivid Mediterranean light.

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