Category Archives: MAMO Research

All things of interest I’ve read and seen

Matisse Exactitude is not Truth 1947 (abridged)

The following is an abridged short essay by Matisse from a catalogue of a Matisse retrospective held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1948

”Among these drawings, which I have chosen with the greatest of care for this exhibition, there are four – portraits perhaps – done from my face as seen in a mirror. I should particularly like to draw these to the visitor’s attention.

These drawings seem to sum up observations that I have been making for many years on the characteristics of a drawing, characteristics that do not depend on the exact copying of natural forms, nor on the patient assembling of exact details, but on the profound feeling of the artist before the objects which he has chosen, on which his attention has focussed, and the spirit of which he has penetrated.

My convictions on these matters crystallised after I had verified the fact that, for example, in the leaves of a tree – a fig tree, particularly – the great difference of form that exists among them does not keep them from being united by common quality. Fig leaves, whatever fantastic shape they assume, are always unmistakeably fig leaves. I have made the same observation about other growing things: fruit, vegetables, etc.

Thus there is an inherent truth which must be disengaged from the outward appearance of the object to be represented. This is the only truth that matters.

The four drawings in question are of the same subject, yet the calligraphy of each one of them shows a seeming liberty of line, of contour, and of volume expressed.

Indeed, no one of these drawings can be superimposed on another, for all have completely different outlines.

In these drawings the upper part of the face is the same, but the lower is completely different. In n. 158 (top, left), it is square and massive; in no. 159 (top, right), it is elongated in comparison with the upper portion; in no.160 (bottom, left), it terminates in a point and in no. 161 (bottom, right), it bears no resemblance to any of the others.

Nevertheless, the different elements which go to make up these four drawings give in the same measure the organic makeup of the subject. These elements, if they are not always indicated in the same way, are still always wedded in each drawing with the same feeling – the way in which the nose is rooted in the face – the ear screwed into the skull – the lower jaw hung – the way in which the glasses are placed on the nose and ears – the tension of the gaze and its uniform density in all the drawings – even though the shade of expression varies in each one.

It is quite clear that this sum total of elements describes the same man, as to his character and his personality, his way of looking at things and his reactions to life, and as to the reserve with which he faces it and which keeps him from uncontrolled surrender to it. It is indeed the same man, one who always remains an attentive spectator of life and of himself.

It is thus evident that the anatomical, organic in exactitude in these drawings, has not harmed the expression of the intimate character and inherent truth of the personality, but on the contrary has helped to clarify it.

Each of these drawings, as I see it, has its own individual invention which comes from the artist’s penetration of his subject, going so far that he identifies himself with it, so that its essential truth makes the drawing. It is not changed by the different conditions under which the drawing is made; on the contrary, the expression of this truth by the elasticity of its line and by its freedom lends itself to the demands of the composition; it takes on light and shade and even life, but the turn of the spirit of the artist whose expression it is.”

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Matthew Collins on the Art Market


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Philip Guston in his studio

An interesting bit of film with Philip Guston in his studio. Well worth your time I think.

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Oldest Cave Art – Red Dots

The worlds oldest known marks found in Spain dating back 40,000 years. These marks are red dots and hand prints. It could point at the beginnings of recorded language. These dots/prints/symbols are found at 11 different sites which may suggest a passing on of graphic symbolic marks to individuals within a group or from one group to another. Caves such as Lascaux contain marks and images that are found in smaller caves in the region pointing to the meeting of minds. People coming together in larger caves like Lascaux, comparing experiences they had in the spirit world and the images revealed to them.

These dots and prints and the their age could be a step closer to the ”Big Bang” in the physical recording of the human nervous system.



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Stubbs and the Anatomy of the Horse

George Stubbs (25 August 1724 – 10 July 1806) made famous for his painitng of horses including the above image Whitlejack on show at the National Gallery london.

His method for learning about and understand horses from a purley subjective point of view change the way in which Horses were represented in art and helped change the way horses were thought about and treated. As recently as the 1700s ”experts” on the horse beleived that a Horse had no brain. After Stubbs made his reasearch and produced his images and notations people understood horses in a different way (of course he is not alone in making this change happen though he played a part). Now people understood they had brains and some felt, even a soul. This leap in empathy was arrived at by objective and some may think cold means. As shown in the below text written by a friend of Stubbs, Ozias Humphrey.

”The first subject that he procured, was a horse which was bled to death by the jugular vein; after which the arteries & veins were injected.-A Bar of Iron was then suspended from the ceiling of the room by a teagle to which Iron Hooks of various sizes & lengths were fixed.-Under tho bar a plank was swung about 18 inches wide for the horses feet to rest upon and the animal was suspended to the Iron Bar by the above mentioned hooks which were fastened to the opposite side of the horse to that which was intended to be designed; by passing the Hooks thro’ the Ribs & fastening them under the Back bone…

He first began by dissecting and designing the muscles of the abdomen proceeding thro’ five different lay[er]s of muscle till he came to the peritoricum & the pleura, through which appeared the lungs & the intestines-afterwards, the Bowels were taken out, and cast away.-then he proceeded to dissect the Head by first stripping off the skin, & after having cleaned and prepared the muscles &c. for the drawing, he made careful design of them, & wrote the explanations which usually employed him a whole day.-He then took off another lay’ of muscles, which he prepared, designed, & described in the same manner as is represented in the work.-and so he proceeded till he came to the skeleton.

It must be noted that by means of the Injection, the Muscles, the Blood vessels and nerves, retained their form to the last without undergoing any change.-In this manner he advanced his work by stripping off the skin & cleaning & preparing as much of the subjects he concluded would employ a whole day to employ a whole day to prepare, design, and describe, till the whole subject was completed.

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Alan Moore on the Universe, science, Dr Dee

”The role has always been to try and fathom the as yet unfathomable or to imaging the as yet unimaginable…. I would say that has been the same for occultists and for artists and for scientists” – Alan Moore

”The concept of a world of ideas. Yes it’s intangible, it can’t be repeated in a laboratory but pretty much the evidence for it is all around us….Our clothing, our mind sets, the buildings, the streets, the cities that surround us. That started lie as an idea in some ones head.” – Alan Moore

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Tracey Emin RA Professor of Drawing on drawing


“I’m a real advocate of drawing and I think there isn’t enough literal drawing in art schools. It’s very good for the soul as well and good for the memory.” – Tracey Emin.

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Hockney on Radio 4 December 2011

Hockney on working in Bridlington, drawing in a printing machine and his iPad amongst other things. Well worth a listen.

Blurb from web page:

On Start the Week Andrew Marr visits the painter David Hockney to find out why he has swapped LA for East Yorkshire. Hockney takes him on a tour of the farm tracks and woods he has been painting near his home in Bridlington, and talks of his fascination at the changes of the season. In his vast studio hang pictures of increasing size and vibrant colour, many painted using his iPad. He might be in his seventies, but Hockney tells Andrew Marr that he’s on a roll, busier than ever; excited by the new technology and full of ideas for his next works of art.

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Neutrinos faster than the speed of light?

The first known observation of a neutrino, on November 13, 1970. A neutrino hit a proton in a hydrogen bubble chamber. The collision occurred at the point where three tracks emanate on the right of the photograph.

Up until now it has been believed that the fasted measurable ”thing” in the Universe was the speed of light. This may have changed. Einsteins special theory of relativity depends on light being the fasted thing in the universe but results from Cern may have turned this on its head. In tests carried out over a distance of 732km Neutrinos arrived at their destination a ”fraction of a second” early, hence faster than the speed of light. Please follow the link for more info

Neutrinos are a fundamental particle that make up the Universe and one of the least understood and are not effected by electromagnetic forces

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Dennis Potter (17 May 1935 – 7 June 1994)

Dennis Potter talking to Melvin Bragg in 1994 about Television and the way in which it was going (and has gone).

(The pressure) ”to maximise your audience at any given point is the very antithesis of discovering something you didn’t know. It’s the very antithesis of the kind of broadcasting and television which was such a glory in British life.”

It is, I feel linked to Alan Moores statement on art and artists and also to Robert Anton Wilsons on the Joy of art

Dennis Potter Wiki page

Link to video (source of quote) on You Tube

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