[Demonstration drawing based on Open Window, Collioure by Henri Matisse (1905)]
Demonstration drawing depicting frame and base of window.
LL pencil Kinzinger (? barely legible)
Drawn at the Rotorua Masonic Village, New Zealand, where Flora Scales was a resident from 26 October 1978 until just before her death in January 1985. Sketch done on page torn from Untitled [Masonic Sketch book 3] [BC116].
This sketch demonstrates Scales’s explanations of Hans Hofmann’s basic premise that academic systems of perspective, employed since the Renaissance, were no longer relevant to the modern world. This knowledge was conveyed to her by E.D. Kinzinger in the early 1930s.
Excerpt taken from The Notebooks of Marjorie de Lange recording conversations with Flora Scales, 1982-1983, when de Lange and Scales were looking at an unidentified book of reproductions of the work of Henri Matisse in the Rotorua Masonic Village, 1982, “But, “Open Window, Collioure” [1905, oil on canvas] was the talking point of the day. After sitting and agreeing that it is exciting etc she admitted that perhaps if she’d been painting [this subject] she’d have dispensed with perspective – saying “what cheek of me”.
I asked her to explain and was told to find a pencil and paper and then [she] proceeded to give me a lesson on what she had learned from Kinzinger…I got so excited I had to ask her if I could turn off her central heat!…all about breaking with perspective – me trying to take it in correctly and jot down her careful explanations. I’ve kept her wobbly shaky page of lines to describe how she would have seen it.
The chief thing with Kinzinger – “we’d broken with perspective. Tell your friends – the jars are just the same size a long way off as they are to you. You see the road ahead and you see two motor cars or a dray and you know that the road is just as wide ahead.” And then she continued, “Kinzinger gave me new ideas for instance to have direction – this was new to me – to see one thing behind another. You see things from one side of the canvas then you go to the other side and see it from another point of view.”
This is exactly the information Scales had imparted to Toss Woollaston in 1934 which he quotes in his book, Sage Tea: An Autobiography (Collins, Auckland, New Zealand, 1980, pg 247), “…draw as if you were more to one side or the other, not squarely in front of your subject. To achieve this, and as a result of it, your verticals will be, no matter how slightly, in contrast with the edges of the picture-plane, your horizontals with the top and bottom of it (not parallel with them).”
A particularly beautiful late example of this theory can be seen in Scales’s Untitled [Lemon Tree] [BC086].
Photos by Sam Hartnett