Art Editions


Sep 2018

ISBN 978-1-9164052-0-2


Becoming-Matisse: Between Painting and Architecture

Undoing the Image 2

Original Edition
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  • Paperback
  • 250×180mm
  • 128pp.
  • 20 color reproductions, 6 b/w reproductions

Edition supported by  Centre National du Livre,  Institut Français du Royaume-Uni

Cover Design
  • Leaky Studio
  • Norm

    Translated by

    • Robin Mackay

    Accused by his contemporaries of both arid overtheorisation and a hedonistic abandonment to the pleasures of colour, decried for a preoccupation with the merely decorative, retrospectively consigned to a subsidiary role in an official History of Art that sees the liberation of colour from iconic conventions and symbolic associations as the inevitable precursor to the purified colour of modernist formalism…Matisse’s untimely singularity, his break with the History of Art, and the part he played in undoing the image are ripe for the reevaluation operated here with great panache by Éric Alliez and Jean-Claude Bonne, who with this volume restore Matisse to his place within the prehistory of contemporary art, at the same time continuing to transform our understanding of the latter.

    For it was Matisse who, with his understanding of the construction of colours as a means of vital expression, continued to exacerbate the Fauves’ decisive break with Form; in doing so, he also opened up painting to its outside, releasing it onto the walls and into architecture by way of a decorativity virtually generalised to the whole environment.

    Defining this decorativity in its difference to the semiology of Picasso’s collages and papiers collés, where decorative elements continue to signify and remain internal to the painting-form, Alliez and Bonne set out the principles of the energetics deployed by Matisse in his diagrammatic use of colour and pattern as signs-forces, in the path from painting toward the cut-out and beyond.

    Examining Matisse’s immanent theorisation of his own practice, the authors also scrutinize as closely as possible the materiality of his productions, in a series of astonishingly detailed and compelling extended analyses of works including the pivotal 1911 painting Interior with Aubergines, the Merion Dance (1932), and the artist’s architectural intervention at Cateau-Cambresis elementary school (1952–1955), where Alliez and Bonne set his articulation of the stained-glass window The Bees with its architectural setting against Theo Van Doesburg’s experiments in extending mural painting into a ‘painting of space-time’ at L’Aubette in Strasbourg (1927–1928).

    Through this attentiveness to Matisse’s works and his words, we learn how, partly through its involvement with pragmatism (via the encounter with Barnes and Dewey—an Matisse more American than French…) and Bergson’s philosophy—whose Nietzschean pertinence for artmaking Matisse grasped before and beyond Bergson himself…—‘Matisse-thought’ arrived at the magic formula expression=construction=decoration….

    This volume, the second ‘case study’ in Alliez and Bonne’s major work, gives us a new Matisse extracted from clichés and stereotypes both popular and learned, revealing the complex function of his work and thought in contemporary art’s escape from the image, from traditional forms of Art, and even from the Art-Form itself.

    Undoing the Image

    1. Body Without Organs, Body without Image: Ernesto Neto’s Anti-Leviathan
    2. Becoming-Matisse: Between Painting and Architecture
    3. Duchamp Looked at (From the Other Side)
    i. Descending Painting
    ii. Picking up the Thread
    iii. Given Readymades
    4. Three Entries in the Form of Escape Diagrams
    i. DB Entry [Daniel Buren]
    ii. GMC Entry [Gordon Matta-Clark]
    iii. GB Entry [Günter Brus]
    5. Boîte HO [Hélio Oiticica]

    • Becoming Matisse: Between Painting and Architecture
    • Bibliography
    • List of Figures
    • Index