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Matisse And Picasso: The Story Of Their Rivalry And Friendship (Icon Editions) Paperback – May 4, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Timed to coincide roughly with the opening of the blockbuster Matisse-Picasso exhibition's third and final stop, at New York's MoMA QNS (February-May), this volume examines the enmity and amity between the 20th century's two greatest painters, mostly as evidenced by their art. Despite the subtitle, Flam, who brilliantly edited Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings, is much less interested in the endlessly chronicled lives of his subjects than in the work; sentences like "When Matisse returned from Morocco that spring, he was full of turbulent emotions, and he created some of his most memorable and original works" simply serve as transitions to the next phase of work-on which Flam is terrific. In one passage, he finds the word "NON" ("a symmetrical word that asserts its negation in both directions") painted into the window grillwork between the husband-and-wife of Matisse's 1912 Conversation-a word that had been showing up in Picasso's work for the previous year. Flam locates similarly productive appropriations and reappropriations between the two painters over the years, so that anyone standing in line for the exhibition in Queens will profit from at least flipping through this direct, jargon-free study.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"...an in-depth and perceptive look at the artists' friends, women, paintings, gossip, and mutual obsession. Recommended for all art collections." -- Library Journal

"Brilliantly details the strange union of this very odd couple." -- The Seattle Times

"[Flam] conveys his impressive insights without the high-flown gobbledygook that sometimes infests art criticism." -- January Magazine

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Product Details

  • Series: Icon Editions
  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; First Edition edition (May 5, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081339046X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813390468
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #492,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Artist Barbara Garro on July 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Imagine one tightly written book that can tell you what the art world was like for much of the 20th Century! Jack Flam is the man who did just that in "Matisse Picaso." Then imagine learning all about the lives of Matisse and Picasso and their loves along with their push-pull friendship and competition. After that get the skinny on the paintings both men painted. I never even saw all the -------- in Picasso's paintings. Now, it is hard to see anything else.

I found this book to be much more exciting then typical biographies that include all the boring parts of people's lives. Here you get all the interesting parts with all the boring parts left out. I read every word and recommend the book without reservation. In fact, I believe every art student needs to read this book, every artist, every art affictionado.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Sergio Remon on June 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Before there was Andy Warhol, the ultimate in art cool, there was Picasso. And before there was Picasso, there was Matisse. Picasso and his cronies used to make fun of Matisse's primitive style and threw fake darts at Matisse's portrait of his daughter, and people laughed in the salons at Matisse's Joy of Life but no artist influenced Picasso more than Matisse, from his works to his introduction to African and Iberian art, Matisse was one of the few constants in Picasso's life, always keeping the paintings that he had of Matisse. These two heavyweights, more than anybody, have influenced the way we make art today. This books does a great job fleshing out the relationship between these two artists and how they affected each other in a well written and highly accesible format. An excellent book worthy of the excellent artists.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jedrury VINE VOICE on July 27, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Jack Flam provides the key to an in-depth understanding of Picasso and Matisse, their persons, the influences on them, their art and how they played off against each other. With clarity and insight, he compares and contrasts their well known and lesser known paintings by tying each to the tradition of the "pictorial rhetoric and conventional literary and biblical subjects of" Delacroix, the "unorthodox compositional modes" of Courbet and the techniques of the palette of Cezanne. In the end, these two giants of twentieth century modernism "reopened the dialogue with the past and changed its terms" after "Cezanne and the Post Impressionists had blocked the way; it was as if everything had already been done." This fascinating truth about the evolution of nineteenth century art directly impacting early twentieth century art, applies, one would think, not only to Post Impressionism but to Impressionism as well. It is this precise point that underscores the emergence of modernism. Flam is a fine writer of clarity who omits the usual adjectival praise and tropes in place of a controlled study of the line, the interpretation, the color, the subject and timeline for each painting he presents in the book.

Matisse and Picasso were highly sensitive, subjective and complex artists unusually reactive to moods, people and events, thus rendering themselves and their feelings onto the canvas. Picasso, an artist of "ruthless egotism" whose art was highly derivative of others, comes off as more dependent on Matisse than Matisse on Picasso, yet Picasso far more recognized and celebrated than Matisse. As elegant as Flam is in his presentation, he seems to inch towards a preference to Matisse while cleverly observing that the public often judges paintings with its ears rather than its eyes.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Currin on December 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read several biographies of these two painters and have come to know something of their personal lives. This book, however, is the first to give such clear explanation of their works and how they influenced each other. I had no idea that their relationship was so seemingly interdependent. I now have an even better understanding and appreciation for their legacy to us painters, historians, and the general public. Some of the author's interpretations of individual works seem a bit stretched - but not many. I especially appreciate that he consciously avoided naming the better of the two artists. We are left to our own conclusions.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By GCF on August 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I actually ordered this book for what one reviewer calls the "boring parts" and found it to be better suited for people more knowledgeable about art than I. It did give me a better understanding of the two artists and their work and I don't regret buying the book.

I bought the paperback edition. Sadly, the illustrations not only were all black and white, but were so small and poorly printed that details mentioned by Mr. Flam were impossible to discern. I used books I already own, as well as the internet, to locate copies of the particular works and actually see what the points he was making were. The work deserves far better than these sub par illustrations. I hope the hard cover edition does a better job.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Smallridge on May 31, 2011
Format: Paperback
I completely agree with other reviewers. This book made me change the way I view their works and how I see art generally. It is one of the best non-fiction books I have read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Erik Melver on November 19, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A nice compare and contrast. Easy to read. Easy to follow. Flam is worth a look. Picasso and Matisse are masters at their craft.
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