Accidental encounter with Matisse inspires Hampl's new book

The inspiration
"'Hammered' by 'Woman Before an Aquarium,' Hampl undertook a quest for what immediately became her personal holy grail, a vessel bearing not the blood of Christ but its secular equivalent, as ineffable, mystical and impossible as transubstantiated wine," the New York Times wrote in its review of Patricia Hampl's new book.
Art Institute of Chicago

A Matisse painting of a woman gazing at a bowl of goldfish is the center of St. Paul author Patricia Hampl's new book, "Blue Arabesque: A Search for the Sublime."

Hampl first saw the painting in 1972 in Chicago and became captured by the the life and work of Matisse. The image in the painting fuels Hampl's journey to explore the ideas of artistic inspiration and creativity.

Patricia Hampl is a Regents Professor of English at the University of Minnesota. She told Minnesota Public Radio's Greta Cunningham that growing up her family did not go to art museums often and her encounter with the Matisse painting was purely accidental.

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