Pablo Picasso, Portrait of Gertrude Stein, 1906
Helaine Rheingold presented a slide show illustrating works by three towering late 19th and 20th century artists-- Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso.
The large community room of the Bennett library was nearly filled to capacity.
Ms. Rheingold did not disappoint the crowd because she has a unique style of engaging her audience.
At the outset, she made it very clear that you are going to be direct participants; I will be inviting your comments. Sure enough, the audience quickly became willing participants as she often peppered her remarks with questions that were eagerly answered.
Here are just a few points she made:
Cezanne liked painting still lifes because he had no patience in dealing with people who would cause so much trouble; he would insist his subjects sit silently still for hours on end. In painting Ambrose Vollard a portrait dealer, Cezanne demanded he sit on a kitchen chair atop a flimsy packing case from 8AM until 11:30 PM. Once, when Vollard dozed off and nearly fell, Cezanne shouted, "Does an apple move?"
Picasso claimed that Cezanne was "my one and only master...Cezanne was like the father of us all."
Paul Cezanne, Plate of Peaches,
Matisse set up a serious daily regimen because he panicked (shook, swore, sweated) when he painted. He would get up at 7AM and play his violin for two hours in a remote bathroom. For the next three hours, he would paint and after lunch would either nap, or stroll past Aleppo pines in the garden to one of the cafes. At four, he would return to his easel until dark. He would close the shades and do some drawing.
Picasso left a legacy of over thirty thousand paintings. Little known are the lifelike portraits he did of his father and his wife Olga. He also did caricatures of other famous artists' works such as Velazquez's famous Las Meninas.
Indeed Picasso was known to have said "Good artists copy, great artists steal."
By the way, Ms. Rheingold is a docent at the Neuberger Museum of Art and Arts Enrichment Facilitator with the Stamford Public Schools.