This is one of those silly postings that I write from time to time; they don’t have a particular added value mirror-wise (if any at all), and thus could be ignored as a banter.
But when I stumbled upon this Ludion’s Pentateuch, my head formed a pretty obvious question: Who of them is more spectacular? Or in other words, who is a champion in an ‘art-mirrors-art’ kind of sport? A silly, macho question I told you, but still?
And so I decided to make a race.
The race will be between the five monsters of avant-garde art – Van Gogh, Dali, Magritte, Matisse and Picasso – to determine the most mirrorest of them.
With all my love to Van Gogh, he leaves the distance without hardly even starting the race; a false start, perhaps.
There is only one ‘mirror’ in his entire oeuvre, the famous La Chambre à Arles (1888-89), otherwise known as The Bedroom. Ok, there are technically speaking three versions of this painting, plus a couple of draft sketches, one in the letter to his brother, and another in his letter to Gauguin. But they are all one and the same work, with some minor variations.
The earliest version of the painting is now in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam (and you can read a lot of interesting things about this work on the museum’s website); the second is in the Art Institute of Chicago, and the third one in Paris at Musée d’Orsay. Two of these works came together last year in Amsterdam, but I did not managed to go and see them; a pity, may be it was once in a lifetime etc.
But as I said, with the respect to the Dutch master he is not well-fit for this mirror race of the giants.
In terms of number of mirrors in his works Matisse is fine. But as I wrote, most of them are in fact one and the same famous “Oval Mirror of Matisse.” Although it is not even the case – one can paint the same mirror in many different ways (and strictly speaking, Matisse painted more than one mirror).
But somehow Matisse never left the most beaten roots when depicting his mirrors; he is absolutely fantastic on many other way, not not in his “art mirrors”. So, next time better.
The Spaniard defeats the Frenchman not only in terms of mirror quantities (though the number of his mirrors is colossal, I had to write two large postings to cover them all); Picasso was also incredibly diverse in terms of art styles he used, which is also seen in his art-mirrors. Plus of course he created a few incredible original ‘mirror works’, such as his Girl Hugging with Mirror. The only issue with Picasso is his women; he was all about women, and his mirrors were too. He would be a true champion in a sub-sport, of Women with Mirrors, if such would exist.
Perhaps, Dali has painted lesser amount of mirror (although the number will grow if we would add all sort of other mirror-like things in his works, as I wrote). But – it’s not the number of mirrors that matters, Dali has also created many very original and thought-provoking works (and not only oxytocin trigger, like Picasso). And Dali was making more and more interesting works with with time. So, his silver is well deserved.
But to all my surprise, the winner of the race is …
And that having in mind that I don’t particularly like Magritte as a painter.
And yet Magritte somehow managed to win this Mirror Race: his mirrors are most conceptual and paradoxical, and I could add that they are more in line with the XX century than the ones of other contenders. Nearly all his mirrors are not mere repetitions of the earlier themes and motifs, but some sort of Alice-in-Wonderlands ‘doors’ that open more and more mirror gardens for us.
So, and despite a surprise on my face, I have to declare Magritte the Mirror Champion this time.