Saturday, February 22, 2020

Matisse and the Modern Art Mobile by Mark Leary Designs

Mobile: The Classic (spinning in Hanover, Germany)

On design
“But how do I know if it’s good?” asked fox.
“You’ll just know,” replied crow, “you’ll just know.”

Thoughts while making
His name was Henry. And his story *could* have been quite normal. He went to school to become a lawyer. Ended up an artist. Defined an era. You’re welcome, Modernism.

Henry’s childhood was like many of ours. Loaded with landmines. "Be quick!" "Look out!" "Run along!" "Get cracking!" Seemingly constructive, to the sensitive and hyper-vigilant, these imperatives set a high bar. Henry struggled. Stress. Anxiety.

By 19, Henry was already moving up in his profession. But something wasn’t right. He woke with big questions. Ones about purpose, about meaning, about why, about how. Work made him sick. Really sick. Appendicitis sick.

During his recovery, Henry’s mom brought him some art supplies. And that’s when everything changed: “From the moment I held the box of colors in my hands,” he explained, “I knew this was my life.”

For over 50 years, Henri Matisse created artwork that would redefine design with the likes of fellow modernists Kandinsky, Duchamp, Miro, Mondrian, and his lifelong friend, Picasso.

When a client recently sent me a photo of “The Classic” mobile hanging in her beautiful MCM space, Matisse’s words immediately came to mind: “What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity … a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair.”

Yes, a good armchair! And, yes, the invocation + invitation to take pause, to dream, and to consider if you’ve found your own box of colors, and if not, what it will take.

Matisse once said, “I threw myself into [art] like a beast that plunges towards the thing it loves.” Where’s one place in your life you are (or would like to) do the same?


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