Monday, May 30, 2005

Lady With Hat is Traveling

Saw a documentary on the friendship between Matisse and Picasso which showed the turning point in modern art when Matisse painted Femme au chapeau and outraged convention in such a way as to galvanize the young Picasso. Gertrude Stein and her family bought the painting. I wonder who owns it now. The Museum said it's a private owner who chooses to be anonymous.

Lady With Hat (translation) still travels into surprising territory. It was a good choice for the cover of my collection, I'm now convinced, as everyone who sees it has reacted to the image. Femme stands for the leading role I feel women will take in the new millennium -- and the fact that if we are to save the planet, women will have to lead the way into a new human sensibility. She looks appropriately shocked at her new colors. It's a good image for a lot of things I want to get at poetically, as I don't know many other ways to write about this.

I want to go back to the SF Museum of Modern Art and stand before this painting awhile. It's much more shocking in person, much stronger and more psychedelic. For 1908, it was quite a statement. I wish I could find another portrait of a woman to write about, one that inspires me as this one does.

Ekphrastic poetry is getting more play these days. There's a whole journal by that name devoted to it and a number of poets writing ekphrastic poems. My favorite remains Lynne Knight's Snow Effects, based on the traveling exhibit "Impressionists in Winter: Effets de Neige." It's not only stunning poetry, but the book pairs reproductions of the paintings with the poems. Not to be missed.