Monday, May 2, 2016

Still Life by Pierre Tal-Coat / Comment by Wallace Stevens

The picture came this morning in perfect condition. I had feared that it was going to be low in tone, having in mind your drawing and color indications. And I was happy therefore, to find that it is so much cooler, and richer, and fresher, than I had expected. It is young and new and full of vitality. The form and the arrangement of the objects are both full of contrariness, and sophistication. It is a fascinating picture. For all it's indoor light on indoor objects, the picture refreshes one, with an outdoor sense of things. The strong blue lines and the high blue point of the black line in the central foreground collect the group. The line in the glass on the righthand edge, warms without complicating the many cool blues and greens. This is going to give me a great deal of pleasure, and I am most grateful to you. - from a letter to Paule Vidal, September 30, 1949

Now that I have had the picture at home for a few days, it seems almost domesticated. Tal-Coat is supposed to be a man of violence, but one soon becomes accustomed to the present picture. I have even given it a title of my own: "Angel Surrounded by Peasants". The angel is the Venetian glass bowl on the left, with the little spray of leaves in it. The peasants are the terrines, bottles and the glasses that surround it. This title alone tames it, as a lump of sugar might tame a lion. - from a letter to Paule Vidal, October 5, 1949