decembrie 13, 2010

aesthetic imperative

..."Women of Algiers" is also about colour, richly deployed. Throughout the 19th century, oriental themes licensed romantic colourists from Géricault – his "Pasha", on a golden seat in a brilliant crimson robe, is here – to Théodore Chassériau, who was haunted by his visit to Algeria in 1846. His strange, tormented pictures attempt a synthesis between Ingres' classical rigour and Delacroix's vehemence, notably in "Combat of Arab Cavaliers", lit with yellow and red notes for the brightly costumed horsemen, and the theatrical oval panel, "The Death of Cleopatra". Forty years later, Renoir, seeking fresh impetus and greater luminosity to further impressionist experiments, landed at Algiers and in intense, spontaneous, short strokes depicted the over-heated "Arab Fete", a packed musical festival seen against scorched white domes and towers. Within a decade, Henri Evenepoel, young Belgian friend and fellow-traveller of Matisse, made the same journey and painted his own light-drenched crowd scene, "Orange Market at Blidah", whose flattened forms and chromatic daring anticipate fauvism.

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