Henri Matisse, Vase, Bottle and Fruit, 1906Oil on canvas,
Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.

Recent links of note:

“The Book of Saul”
Steven Malanga, City Journal
Alexis de Tocqueville often noted that “the French are better at revolution than reform.” Fortunately for him, he never lived to see that this quirk of French politics would soon grow to define the entire Political Left—a two-century-long eruption of social passion, rarely ever cooling into a solid state of prudent governance. Reflecting on last week’s wave of Women’s Marches, City Journal’s Steven Malanga points out that this old progressive habit may be stronger now than ever. The piece contrasts the Democratic Party’s ability to stir energy on the streets and on social media with their failure to stir up much policy success, attributing the deficit to the influence of the left-wing luminary Saul Alinksy. Notable Democrats in the Alinskyite mold include the organizer-turned-president Barack Obama and the perennial protester Bill de Blasio—a pair of pols for whom the “permanent struggle” has always remained front and center, even during their years in office.

“The What and the How”
Jacob Willer, Standpoint
The British painter Timothy Hyman’s new book The World New Made: Figurative Painting in the Twentieth Century begins with a reflection by Henri Matisse, which is repeated once more in Jacob Willer’s incisive review of Hyman’s book for Standpoint magazine. “The means of expression have become so refined,” observed Matisse in his “Statement on the Purity of Means,” that, “it is necessary to return to the essential principles.” By Willer’s description, Hyman appears to have used this declaration as a guiding light in his analysis, which could illuminate the ideas behind the often obscure forms of Modernist paintings. Using examples from Hyman’s thorough survey of twentieth-century painters, Willer’s piece in turn demonstrates how Matisse’s manifesto was borne out during that period as the masters in each phase of Modernism strove to move closer to the essence of figurative painting.

From our pages:

“Matisse & Diebenkorn at the Baltimore Museum of Art”
Andrew Shea
On the groundbreaking exhibition of the two painters, on view through this Sunday.

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