How the Matisse / Dibenkorn exhibit led me to “Be careful only in a perverse way” over “Coffee”.

With the SFMOMA open late on a Thursday and my calendar free (and wanting to do some late night research on the neighborhood), I went to the Matisse / Dibenkorn exhibit. (Members get in with their membership.)

I don’t know much about Matisse, and going through the show, I was haunted by a friend’s story of a  bad first date to this museum: her date, in reference to some abstract paintings, remarked that he wished his 5 year old could be so successful. My friend found her date’s lack of understanding and callous attitude a good enough reason to be done with the evening as quick as possible.

Yet, there I was, wondering about why Matisse mattered. And who this Dibenkorn guy was.

So, with illumination as close as the glowing screen in my pocket, I Googled: https://www.google.com/search?q=why+is+matisse+important

And because we live in a world where nice people have taken the time, effort and resources to give answers freely:
http://www.theartstory.org/artist-matisse-henri.htm

Which helped.

But, still, Matisse, as displayed, didn’t strike a cord.

But, this Dibenkorn guy… He had one that very much resonated with me:

https://www.sfmoma.org/artwork/94.428

I love coffee. My emotional entanglement was immediate. I loved the stories it evoked, and the ideas it spun. (Please, let me know when you want to go to coffee. Consider this an open invitation.)

And so, I decided to download the photo, so I can keep it in my inspiration swipe file. And then I stumbled over this:

https://www.sfmoma.org/watch/75-reasons-to-live-robert-bechtle-on-richard-diebenkorns-coffee/

Someone else who sort of fell in love with the same painting. A painter. And, looking at his work, I immediately felt a gleeful swirling towards it.

https://www.google.com/search?q=Artist+Robert+Bechtle&tbm=isch

And, perhaps my favorites:

http://modernartdealers.com/artists/robert-bechtle-art/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/09/AR2006030900593.html

After watching Bechtle talk about Dibenkorn’s “Coffee”, I felt a much closer kinship to the work, the artist and painting in general after this. It raised a new thought for me: perhaps, the contemplation required for a painting, in our current over-synthesized experience, may be a balm for the current condition.

I also really liked the passage he read, from Dibenkorn on starting a new painting:

http://www.williamlanday.com/2009/06/23/diebenkorn/

# 10 is  – “Be careful only in a perverse way.”

This lead me to find the definition of perverse:
https://www.google.com/search?q=perverse

showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable, often in spite of the consequences.

Which makes me think – that is a great way to define art: only by being deliberate and unreasonable despite the risks do we throw a contrasting light on the rest of society.

And that brings me back to Matise. In a world of strict portraiture, he was the “pervert”, letting go of form, and focusing on color – deliberately acting unacceptably to current standards unapologetically.

Perhaps our database / computerize life would be better off with more focus on the abstract.

Side note:  In a text conversation with my earlier aforementioned friend, it also became clear to me that research is a powerful drug: mind opening, pulse quickening, hallucinogenic and euphoric.

Also, I am serious about getting that cup of coffee with you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *