So I did something crazy, driven by desire. (No, it doesn’t involve a man.) I decided one day, specifically on July 12, that I MUST see this great work of art, Matisse’s THE 1001 NIGHTS, in person. July 15 was the very last day of the exhibit, and I just HAD to see it. The
crazy part was not just flying to go to the museum for a day. The crazy
part was that I was flying to look at one piece of art, and one piece
only, then flying back. I called the museum to make sure I was allowed to take pictures (without a flash) which they confirmed. Then, I flew to the Carnegie Mellon Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.
What happened next was very disappointing, at first. I had looked at many pictures of the Matisse piece on the internet which seemed to reveal vivid, primary colors. However, upon walking into the dimly lit room of the museum, the entire piece looked very washed out like when you see something that has faded from sunlight. Initially thinking, “This is what I flew in for?,” I felt ashamed upon closer inspection, especially after my eyes adjusted to the dim light. After learning that the gouache paint has faded over time, as well as seeing in person how delicate the painting is, I felt incredible shame for my initial harsh judgment. Then, when I turned the corner and saw what I saw, I was moved to tears. It was a picture of Matisse, 81 years old, confined to his bed, and reaching up at the high wall with a makeshift paintbrush. He used a long stick to reach up to draw on his canvas, his bedroom wall. After being moved to tears at the sight of this, my perspective of Matisse’s THE 1001 NIGHTS changed. It was now exquisite. I saw Scheherazade, beautiful, cunning, telling stories from dusk until dawn. She captivated me with her beauty and her charm until…I fell in love. I fell in love with Scheherazade as well as with Matisse himself. Here, you be the judge.