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Unframing painting, ‘pushing back the walls’

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Y.-A. Bois has the merit of having opened the way to an understanding of Matisse’s revolution in the matter of colour – namely that relations between colours are above all relations of quantity, and that these quantitative relations determine, differentially, their qualities. But for him, these relations of quantity are merely a question of their reciprocal partitioning of surfaces, that is to say of drawing. For us, colour is in principle a relation not between pure quantities of inert surfaces but between their reciprocal intensities. And these intensities are not to be understood in terms of pure picturality. Indeed, the most radical advance Matisse made in his art was to open up an experimentation with the becoming-life of art: an art which, from this point on, would no longer be a matter of aesthetics, but instead of the all-around construction of an aisthesis expressing what Matisse called an ‘energetic feeling of life’. This implied a veritable becoming-other of painting which would prompt him, without exiting painting, to make painting itself exit by removing the borders between painting and its environing milieu so that his construction works directly flush to the architectural site, with the intention of constructing, together with it, a milieu of life from which his painting must not cut itself off by making itself image – and in this proviso lies the whole force and the difficulty of Matisse. We tackle this question through an analysis and comparison of his two great mural paintings entitled The Dance (1931–33).
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Keywords: aisthesis; architectural; colours; construction; decoration; expression; intensities; site

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Paris 8 / Kingston University, London 2: EHESS, Paris

Publication date: April 1, 2019

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  • Journal of Contemporary Painting responds to the territory and practice of contemporary painting in its broadest sense, viewing painting as a context for discussion, exploring its sphere of history and influence, rather than as a medium specific debate. The JCP combines a thematic approach with an open call, each issue opening up and problematising pressing concerns in contemporary painting.

    As well as contributions to current debates on contemporary art, a particular feature of the Journal of Contemporary Painting is the publication of archival or newly translated texts alongside current responsive articles, based on the premise that contemporary painting cannot be understood without reflecting on its history. Dedication to understanding the nature and forms of painting research has also led to the inclusions of an original visual essay for every edition. Additionally we respond to current exhibitions, books and symposia, nationally and internationally, in our reviews section.

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