Quick Compare| Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso on "Process"

Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, one of the twentieth century's
greatest artistic rivalry.
In a lecture this week discussing the rise of modernism in the early twentieth century, I discussed how the history of this period has been carefully constructed around the notion of artistic rivalries and the competition to see who can more successfully โ€œevolveโ€ and push for a revolution of form in the establishing narrative of modern art. Perhaps no bigger rivalry exists in this regard than the one forged between Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. For Matisse, the struggle to move away from a traditional painting method lead him to the experimental realm and an attack on Western traditions of painting at both the level of iconography and form. We see this worked out in his epic and radically perturbing painting Joy of Life (1906). For Picasso, the motivation was very similar, but his experiments lead him towards more of an attack on the stability of signs and the radical questioning of the rules of representation all together. The final result can be seen in his monstrous manifesto painting, and the painting perhaps best associated with modern art, Les Demoiselles dโ€™Avignon (1907).

And even while these two paintings, created only a year apart, signal two landmark works in the history of modern art, they also represent a contrast in approach, stakes, and sensibility in the engagement with modernism. One of my favourite discussions of this rivalry and its many points of contrast can be found in the archives of Slate.com in an article by Jacob Weisberg who breaks down the differences between Matisse and Picasso along the one philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche established in The Birth of Tragedy between Apollonian and Dionysian Art. As Weisberg argues, 
โ€œThe Apollonian comes from the Greek god Apollo, the god of light, who was associated with rationality and its subspecialties law, medicine, and philosophy. The Dionysian comes from Dionysius, the god of wine and fertility, who was worshipped with drunken orgies in the woods at which nonparticipants were ripped to pieces. The Apollonian spirit is one of measure, reason, and control; the Dionysian is one of abandon, irrationality, and ecstatic release. The clash between the two principles was what produced Greek tragedy, according to Nietzsche. That Matisse is essentially an Apollonian artist and Picasso a Dionysian is evident even from the backhanded compliments they paid each other. Matisse called Picasso "capricious and unpredictable." Picasso described Matisse's paintings as "beautiful and elegant."
Weisberg goes on to produce a tongue in cheek list that I have pasted below to affirm these differences as an essential competitive struggle still being waged in contemporary culture. Where do you fit into this rivalry? Are you more of a Matisse or a Picasso?
Matisse's Joy of Life (1906) vs. Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907)

Matisse
Picasso
Jane Austen
Charlotte Brontรซ
Eliot
Yeats
Freud
Jung
Superman
Batman
Left brain
Right brain
New York City
Los Angeles
Pope
Swift
Puccini
Verdi
Johns
Rauschenberg
Bush
Reagan
Ego
Id
Stravinsky
Schoenberg
Windows
Macintosh
Hillary
Bill
Wordsworth
Shelley
David Remnick
Tina Brown
England
France
Madison
Jefferson
Mort Zuckerman
Donald Trump
Hetero
Homo
Army
Navy
Heaven
Hell
Shaw
Wilde
White wine
Red wine
Aristotle
Plato
Slate
Salon
Bonds
Stocks
Leviticus
Genesis
Felix
Oscar
North Korea
South Korea
Classical
Romantic
Cocaine
Heroin
Mies
Le Corbusier
The Clash
The Sex Pistols
Irving Kristol
Norman Podhoretz
Protestantism
Catholicism
Kant
Rousseau
Mozart
Haydn
Empire State Building
Chrysler Building
Magritte
Dalรญ
Mickey Mouse
Donald Duck


To further this conversation, I have selected two clips of Matisse and Picasso in action-- it is always great to look back to these archival films to see the two "heavies" of modern art in action.