Slide Show - Images (mostly) from The Illustrated History of Painting


Sunday, December 20, 2009

"Words are loneliness."
- Henry Miller

Beginning on page 167, Tropic of Cancer, Miller finds himself in a Matisse filled gallery on the Rue de Seze. He is ravished. And conveys his ravishment (as opposed to squeaky clean Emersonian transcendence) in a full-blown corporeal, and catholic, rhapsody of text.

"In every poem of Matisse there is the history of a particle of human flesh which refused the consummation of death. The whole run of flesh, from hair to nails, express the miracle of breathing, as if the inner eye, in its thirst for greater reality, had converted the pores of the flesh into hungry seeking mouths."

"Looking down the vast promontory of his nose he has beheld everything - the Cordilleras falling away into the Pacific, the history of the Diaspora done in vellum, shutters fluting the froufrou of the beach, the piano curving like a conch, corollas giving out diapasons of light, chameleons squirming under the book press, seraglios expiring in oceans of dust, music issuing like fire from the hidden chromospheres of pain, spore and madrepore fructifying the earth, navels and their bright spawn of anguish..."

THIS, is how art criticism SHOULD be brought to us. Unlike the crap I (and the majority of art critics) pen.

Miller's paean to Matisse is, in effect, one work of art fornicating (apologies to the propagating ghost of H.M.), or more properly, having intercourse, with another.

Gratitude to Robin Neate - painting colleague - for the loan of the book,
which I've now just gotten 'round to re-reading, after all those years gathering dust in memory.