Markus Weggenmann Channels Henri Matisse

Matisse Cut Out
Henri Matisse. The Nightmare of the White Elephant. 1947

Markus Weggenmann is a Swiss-German artist who channels the visual vocabulary of Matisse. Henri Matisse (1869-1954) was a French artist, primarily known as a painter, whose style is defined by his expressive use of color and for his fluid approach to drawing.

Matisse’s work was shocking and controversial when it debuted in the United States at the 1913 Armory Show. At that show (along with his close friend Picasso and the controversy-loving Marcel Duchamp), Matisse helped to define the revolutionary developments that became known as modern art. At the time, the public was profoundly disturbed by the suggestion that, in the future, art would no longer necessarily be aligned with generally accepted conceptions of beauty.

Matisse Cut Out
Henri Matisse. The Cowboy. 1947

However, Matisse’s artistic intention was not to shock or disturb but rather to calm and relax the viewer.

What I dream of is an art of balance, purity, and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter… a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.

Henri Matisse

We find that Weggenmann’s art fulfills Matisse’s dream of balance, purity, and serenity. Weggenmeann’s bold colors and fluid lines are calming and soothing but devoid of any sentimentality.

Henri Matisse introduced what came to be called a cut-out near the end of his long life. Matisse would cut painted sheets into forms of varying shapes and sizes and arrange them into compositions. Simple and bold, with beautiful pure colors and contrast, the cut-outs were initially small in size, but eventually grew into room-sized works.

Weggenmann Painting
Markus Weggenmann. LW 176. 2019

Interestingly, Markus Weggenmann’s way of artmaking is like a 21st-century version of Matisse’s process. His most recent paintings at Taubert Contemporary begin without a specific plan, using quickly executed brush marks with gouache on small-format paper. Weggenmann processes these gouaches with digital programs and sends these to an auto body specialist to be reproduced with industrial-grade paint. His works have been described as having “a stunningly flat surface. seemingly impenetrable and devoid of any imperfections.”

Weggenmann Painting
Markus Weggenmann. LW 182. 2019

Weggenmann’s style falls within the category of modern graphic realism. The most recent works are based on food and flowers, and Weggenmann calls them “the abstract idea of painting,” his images vacillating somewhere between gestural and representative.

Weggenmann was born in Germany and currently lives in Switzerland, and he has been exhibiting art in those countries since 1987, Weggenmann’s most recent exhibition “death by colour” at Taubert Contemporary Gallery in Berlin opened in November 2019 and is on display until January 11, 2020.

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