top 5 matisse interiors (imo)

5. Interior with a Goldfish Bowl, 1914matisse_interiorwithgoldfishbowlMatisse is one of the artists that just make me so happy that art exists. I feel satisfied just looking at his work and the colours and patterns etc. There’s that whole thing about the pleasure of painting and just basic visual pleasure, and Matisse epitomises that for me. Interior with a Goldfish Bowl was painted during the beginning of WWI at a time when Matisse was becoming more interested in Cubism and was making friends with Picasso and Juan Gris (as Spanish nationals, they were not subject to conscription, so remained in Paris). What I love the most about this painting is all the different blues in it and how tranquil it seems. Although he obviously uses certain Cubist concepts (rectilinear divisions, intersecting planes etc.) I really like how he doesn’t ~go all the way and we still get to be treated with this nice chunk of his studio. And those orange cigar fish lol.

4. The Black Fern, 1948
matisse_theblackfern
Bright colour and pattern everywhere (dat spotted jaguar skin…). Love the scraggly paint application and the different approaches to the various parts of the painting. LOVE that black chunk of paint at the bottom in which he’s scratched his signature and the date (Venice, 1948 – and basically ~mattise waz here~). Many of Matisse’s late-life works are interiors that have been squished into one plane, so like in this one, although the floor and wall are separated through colour and pattern they share the same plane, so that the rectangular window showing a ‘view’ of some nice trees actually looks more like a painting itself. And that fern! It has more sass than the human figure in the painting.

3. My Room at the Beau-Rivage, 1917-18
matisse_myroomatthebeaurivage
Apparently people were disappointed upon seeing the actual hotel room this painting depicts because it was nothing like Matisse’s inviting and cheery rendition. I like that he turned this default (and probs quite ugly) hotel room from something anonymous into a lovely painterly piece of candy. It’s just such an appealing and charming painting. It radiates light and colour and a kind of domesticated contentment.

2. The Pink Studio, 1911
matisse_thepinkstudio1911
This was one of four massive paintings that were later named Matisse’s “grand symphonic interiors“… !!!! It’s a very all-over painting and the eye is free to move around at will and greedily suck everything up. There is definitely an aesthetic delight in this, like in so many of his other works. To me it seems very happy (that pink!), but I also like how he’s included so much of himself in it, even without depicting himself at all. Instead he shows us the things he was working on at the time. The book I was reading about him described it as a “parade” of his work in every medium and I think that’s totally fitting!

1. Harmony in Red, 1908
matisse_harmonyinred
This is my favourite painting of all time ever. That red with the electric blue… It’s pretty stubbornly two-dimensional, so everything seems to only just cling to the surface. Like I just want to reach in and pluck things out and eat them. Also the garden view could again be mistaken for a hanging painting. I personally really like the lovely, colouredy, patterny domesticity of this painting, but I learned that to draw attention away from the human element and the human action in the painting, Matisse renamed it Harmony in Red, to place emphasis on the formal elements of the painting, when it was originally called La Desserte – obviously referring to the figure placing fruit on the table. For me this painting basically defines the phrase ‘the pleasure of looking’ and fills me with happiness. It’s just full of painterly fizz. This was one of the paintings people living at the time really didn’t like (like much of the Fauvist works of many different artists), because it was too wild for them and thought of as ugly, but like whatever shows what they knew which is NOTHING.

top 5 haunted houses in fiction (imo)

Apparently we have a ghost in the house. A few days ago I was watching TV really late at night and everyone else, including our dog Marlo, was asleep. Suddenly, I hear a scary low rumbling growl and look in the hallway where Marlo was sleeping. He’s standing up alert, with his fur puffed out and eyes glowing, growling at something up on the ceiling. So, I went over there to see wtf he was looking at and there was absolutely nothing there.

This is a photo of the corner he was looking at, from his perspective:

I sat with him for a bit, while he calmed down, but he still kept his eyes on the Something that had alarmed him up on the ceiling. I thought it may have been some kind of insect, but there was absolutely nothing there, like n o t h i n g, trust me. Not even a mosquito. Maybe he had a nightmare and woke up scared and confused aw. OR…

it is a ghost.

In honour of this event, I wanted to do a post of my top 5 favourite haunted houses.

5. The Lisbon house in The Virgin Suicides

The Virgin Suicides is obviously not a tale of a haunted house, but I think the Lisbon sisters’ house still falls into this category. This is probably the saddest house in this list, instead of being the scariest. I have not actually read the book, just seen Sofia Copolla’s movie, so the following might not have any relevance to the novel.

I love all the shots of the girls’ knickknacks in their room and the way they seem to use this slow creeping of their things to cement some sort of control over their fate and their environment. Their stickers and perfume bottles and clothes thrown everywhere are as different from the rest of the house, which is controlled by their parents, as their existence is different from the other girls in their school, after the suicide of their youngest sister. Teenage girls’ rooms are amazing places. I think some haunted houses revolve around the emotional connection the ghost/ghosts have to the objects that used to be theirs and I also think that a haunted house doesn’t need the ghost of a dead person to fall into that category.


I keep thinking about Miss Havisham from Great Expectations and how she is kind of like the Lisbon Sisters, only while their collection of things seems to always be changing and moving and being added to, Miss Havisham’s is obviously static and collects dust. But, they both use the things around them as an anchor to normalcy – Miss Havisham madly tries to hold on to what she thought would be her perfect day, the culmination of her upbringing and the point to her life, while the Lisbon sisters exercise as much freedom as they can in their rooms, by collecting and arranging different little things, and cling to the hope of a normal teenage life. All their belongings and objects are kind of little throwaway things, without much value except to them personally (and I guess to us as viewers or readers of the Virgin Suicides and Great Expectations). And indeed Miss Havisham’s wedding feast definitely has no value as food to anyone any more. Here is a really relevant quote from the Virgin Suicides film:

“So much has been said about the girls over the years. But we have never found an answer. It didn’t matter in the end how old they had been, or that they were girls… but only that we had loved them… and that they hadn’t heard us calling… still do not hear us calling them from out of those rooms… where they went to be alone for all time… and where we will never find the pieces to put them back together.”


4. The Paranormal Activity house

First of all, holy shit this movie completely blew me away. I had gotten so used to shock horror and gore horror and dumb horror that it was so refreshing, and truly terrifying, to finally watch a movie like this, where you don’t see the villanous terror and get immune to it, where the atmosphere of dread and stress builds so smoothly and where the movie never devolves into cliches or stereotypes (apart from the burning Ouija board, but even that was cool). Technically this isn’t really a haunted house since the demonic horror that plagues the characters is specifically attached to Katie and follows her throughout her life, rather than being attached to the house itself. But I still love this house as a haunted house. I love that horrible feeling of invasion; of something unseen and unknowable invading the most private space in a person’s life and making a home a completely unsafe place to be. The director used his own house to shoot the movie and you can definitely tell that it’s not just a decorated film set. All the furniture and decoration is much less visually interesting than a deliberately staged set would be, but that also contributes to the movie’s feeling of reality and how something as innocuous as a bland house in the suburbs (albeit a giant rich house) can take on a whole new life as a suddenly horrifying place to be.

3. House of Leaves

This is the first book I read that made me think about books as objects. I know lots of people are put off by it, but I really enjoyed the way the layouts of the pages followed the plot line. This is probably the most poetically haunted house in this list. I just love that beginning image of someone discovering that the dimensions of their house are somehow a little larger on the inside, than on the outside. Some of the things that happen in the book, particularly when various characters descend into the darkness of the heart of the house, are g e n u i n e l y blood chilling. Although I thought that what began as a really interesting and spooky novel about a haunted house, kind of evolved into something completely different by the end of the book. It kind of became a love story instead? I was a little disappointed with this when I first read the book, because after a while all the beautiful horror stuff was put to the side a little bit, but now I’m starting to really like this shift. I don’t know… That’s what haunted houses are about anyway, I think. Love and lost love and the connections that still remain.

2. Hill House

Hands down, the single greatest haunted house story in the world, and in my opinion the single greatest horror novel also. There’s a shameful Catherine Zeta Jones movie adaptation of this, but it does not bear much resemblance to this amazing book. I can never get over the opening paragraph:

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill house, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”

I also really like this anthropomorphising paragraph. I like how the house itself is a living, thinking entity in this story. Or is it…

“No human eye can isolate the unhappy coincidence of line and place which suggests evil in the face of a house, and yet somehow a maniac juxtaposition, a badly turned angle, some chance meeting of roof and sky, turned Hill House into a place of despair, more frightening because the face of Hill House seemed awake, with a watchfulness from the blank windows and a touch of glee in the eyebrow of a cornice. Almost any house, caught unexpectedly or at an odd angle, can turn a deeply humorous look on a watching person; even a mischievous little chimney, or a dormer like a dimple, can catch up a beholder with a sense of fellowship; but a house arrogant and hating, never off guard, can only be evil. This house, which seemed somehow to have formed itself, flying together into its own powerful pattern under the hands of its builders, fitting itself into its own construction of lines and angles, reared its great head back against the sky without concession to humanity. It was a house without kindness, never meant to be lived in, not a fit place for people or for love or for hope. Exorcism cannot alter the countenance of a house; Hill House would stay as it was until it was destroyed.”

1. Blair Witch house

This is one of my favourite movies. Like in Paranormal Activity, I love that feeling of never quite being able to see what is causing such mayhem. I love how it’s always just outside your field of vision and how the characters use their camera as a kind of shield. I love all the little bits and pieces of different stories and legends that are woven together to create this myth of the Blair Witch. Everything is only suggestive, and there is never a coherent ending to these little stories, but every detail in the movie seems to suggest the evil presence of the Witch. The house at the end of the movie is the scariest house and the scariest ending I have ever seen. Corners are somehow horrible, just on their own, since they are often empty, but still seem to contain something. But this particular corner….

If someone starts saying how this movie is overrated and it wasn’t scary and nothing happens, then I always think they need to go out and buy themselves a new imagination.

P.S. All pix were found through google image search, except the very top one, which was obviously taken in our home.