Tag Archives: Liverpool exhibitions

Alice and Matisse

OCA study day in Liverpool looking at the Alice-in-wonderland exhibition at the Tate in Liverpool, and Matisse books at the Walker, Saturday 21/01/12.  I’m focussing on books and illustration mainly.

Alice > too big, messy, and too many people…. hard to focus in.  Looking at Lewis Carroll’s handwritten books and his illustrations, particularly at the smaller animals (as a way to key into it).  Why was I thinking of Alfred Wainwright? Looking at layout, and his precise notes for the publisher on location and sizing for the illustrations.  Comparing styles across published editions of the book, particularly different European versions, and noticed particular style differences across different countries. Really like the Dali illustrations, his colours, and the contrast between his precise, tiny detailed cartoons drawn in black ink, and the big splashy sweeps of colour.  Following the icon-like Alice figure-with-skipping-rope and it’s shadows across each page. Max Ernst, I liked too, and focussing on the animals again.

Matisse > The one that stood out was the Jazz book mainly because the images are so familiar. Simple papercuts and elaborately clumsy production methods to reproduce them into books – the process was quite interesting.  Some nice simple shapes and symbolism I’ve now forgotten. Bold flat colours, cheerful.  Nice to see them bigger than postcard size. Noted that there was no relationship between the text and the images, which were placed where they looked best.  The really nice book (poetry book) was rich black on white, text on the lefthand page, simple white-line-on-black (linocut?) illustration on the right, nice creamy paper, large print, generously laid out, and (slightly crude) hand-drawn red initial characters to brighten it up a bit.  It had impact, looked really good, and really depended on the quality of the line drawings to carry it off.  Have a few of those as postcards too.  This exhibition benefited from being small, uncrowded and uncluttered, so you could actually get in to see it…

Elsewhere in the Tate… 3 pictures of note. A tryout painting of a woman by Matisse, looking at the rough brushstrokes and direction of painting (right to left), contrasting with a Spanish-red-earth-war Dali painting, and how carefully done it is, smooth with lots of tiny details and amazing bony hands. Thirdly a framed Eric Gill hand drawn typographic piece of wallart which just shows what you can do if you stay away from the computer.