Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), Young Sailor II, 1906, Oil on canvas, 101.3 x 82.9 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection (1999.363.41), © 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), Woman on a Divan (Room at the Hotel Mediteranée), 1920-21, Oil on canvas, 60.2 x 73.4 cm, Kunstmuseum Basel, Bequest of Dr. h. c. Richard Doetsch-Benzinger, Basel, 1960, © 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse, Pairs, Paintings in Dialogue from Parallel Universes

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), The Dream, 1940, Oil on canvas, 81 x 65 cm, Private collection, © 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), Interior at Nice (Room at the Hotel Beau-Rivage), 1918, Oil on canvas, 73.7 x 60.3 cm, Philadelphia Museum of Art, A.E. Gallatin Collection, 1952, © 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), The Large Blue Dress, 1937,Oil on canvas, 92.7 x 73.7 cm, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. John Wintersteen, 1956, © 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), Interior with Black Fern, 1948, Oil on canvas, 116 x 89 cm, Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, © 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), Goldfish and Palette, 1914, Oil on canvas, 146.5 x 112.4 cm, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Gift and bequest of Florene M. Schoenborn and Samuel A. Marx, 1964, © 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), Seated Nude, 1909, Oil on canvas, 115.7 x 89 cm, Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation, New York, © 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), Nasturtiums with the Painting 'Dance' I, 1912, Oil on canvas, 191.8 x 115.3 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Bequest of Scofield Thayer, 1982, (1984.433.16), © 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

 

Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
212-535-7710
Lila Acheson Wallace Wing, first floor
Matisse: In Search of True Painting
December 4, 2012-March 17, 2013

Henri Matisse (1869-1954) was one of the most acclaimed artists working in France during the first half of the 20th century. The critic Clement Greenberg, writing in The Nation in 1949, called him a “self-assured master who can no more help painting well than breathing.” Unbeknownst to many, painting had rarely come easily to Matisse.

Throughout his career, Matisse questioned, repainted, and reevaluated his work. He used his completed canvases as tools, repeating compositions in order to compare effects, gauge his progress, and, as he put it, “push further and deeper into true painting.” While this manner of working with pairs, trios, and series is certainly not unique to Matisse, his need to progress methodically from one painting to the next is striking. •Matisse: In Search of True Painting• will present this particular aspect of Matisse’s painting process by showcasing 49 vibrantly colored canvases. For Matisse, the process of creation was not simply a means to an end but a dimension of his art that was as important as the finished canvas.

The exhibition is organized by Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in collaboration with Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, and Centre Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris.

Matisse copied old master paintings as part of his academic training. He found much to admire on the walls of the Musée du Louvre yet was also receptive to the contemporary pictures he encountered in Parisian galleries. He was particularly intrigued by the work of Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) and Paul Signac (1863-1935). In 1904-1905 Matisse arranged a still life and painted it in two different ways. The green and violet clusters of diagonally placed brushstrokes in Still Life with Purro I (1904, private collection) evoke passages in certain of Cézanne’s paintings, while the vivid colors and confetti-like effects of Still Life with Purro II (1904-1905, private collection) are derived from Signac. Matisse borrowed stylistic elements from the two artists but was more interested in rendering his own sensations than subscribing to either of their theories.

Matisse’s stylistic exploration sparked the creation of pairs in which neither painting is entirely indebted to another artist. Upon his return to the fishing village of Collioure in the summer of 1906, he depicted a local teenager in a work that has all the hallmarks of his own vividly colored, expressive Fauvism (Young Sailor I, 1906, Collection of Sheldon H. Solow). He then painted a second version of the composition on an identically sized canvas, this time employing flat color and deformation to produce a drastically different effect (Young Sailor II, 1906, The Metropolitan Museum of Art). Unsure of his new direction, Matisse told friends that Young Sailor II had been painted by the local postman.

Matisse later explained that his aim was to “condense the meaning of [a] body by seeking its essential lines.”

Over the next 10 years, Matisse approached his pairs in a variety of ways. He used a full-size cartoon and squaring to create his next major pair, life-size representations of a trio of nudes near the sea (Le Luxe I, 1907, Centre Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris; and Le Luxe II, 1907-08, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen). In 1914, he painted two large views from the window of his Parisian studio (Notre-Dame, 1914, Kunstmuseum Solothurn, Dübi-Müller-Stiftung, Switzerland; and The Museum of Modern Art, New York). Seen together they underscore issues that intrigued him at the time: means of representation, the role of color, and the question of what constitutes a finished canvas. Painting in pairs on canvases of the same size offered Matisse alternate solutions to any given pictorial challenge.

Painting sessions with the sensual Italian model Laurette over a period of six or seven months in 1916-17 were instrumental in reorienting Matisse as he abandoned the restrictions inherent in painting in pairs and fully embraced larger series (Laurette in a Green Robe, Black Background, 1916, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; Laurette Seated on a Pink Armchair, 1916, private collection; Meditation (Portrait of Laurette), 1916-17, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston). Matisse’s enthusiasm for working in series coincided with his revived interest in Impressionism. It was on his mind when he attempted to capture the essence of a light-filled room in a series of canvases painted in Nice in the winter and spring of 1917-18 — Interior at Nice (Room at the Hôtel Beau-Rivage) (Philadelphia Museum of Art), The Open Window (Room at the Hôtel Beau-Rivage) (private collection), Interior with a Violin (Room at the Hôtel Beau-Rivage) (Statens Museum for Kunst). And it was on his mind again when he painted the distinctive cliffs of Étretat in 1920 — in Large Cliff – Fish (The Baltimore Museum of Art), Large Cliff – Two Rays (Norton Museum of Art), and Large Cliff – Eel (The Columbus Museum of Art).

In the 1930s Matisse hired a photographer to document his progress on certain paintings. His model and studio assistant Lydia Delectorskaya recalled that the photographer was called in “when, at the end of a session, it seemed to Matisse he had come to the end of his work or he decided he had arrived at a significant stage … .” Instead of setting his canvas aside and repeating the composition on a new canvas of identical size, as he had done in the 1900s and 1910s, Matisse used the photographs to preserve states of his paintings. He consulted them as he worked, comparing them to the painting in order to see whether he had advanced or regressed.

In December 1945, six recent paintings by Matisse were displayed at the Galerie Maeght in Paris. Each was juxtaposed with large framed photographs documenting its evolution. The photographs are not depictions of related works; they trace the evolution of the canvas they surround. Matisse embraced the opportunity to put his process on display and in so doing, dispelled the notion that he worked spontaneously. He insisted that the only point of the exhibition was to present “the progressive development of the artworks through their various respective states toward definitive conclusions and precise signs.” By agreeing to make the photographs public, Matisse tacitly acknowledged that their presence added to the viewers’ understanding and appreciation of his work. The Metropolitan Museum’s exhibition will recreate three walls of the Galerie Maeght exhibition, featuring La France (1939, Hiroshima Museum of Art), The Dream (1940, private collection), and Still Life with Magnolia (1941, Centre Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris).

The theme of the studio interior — a consistent motif in Matisse’s oeuvre throughout his career — was addressed in Matisse’s final painted series, created from 1944 to 1948 at the Villa Le Rêve in Vence, France. The septuagenarian artist felt that a lifetime of work had prepared him to use color as a means of intimate expression. In the spring of 1948, he wrote to his son Pierre that his most recent paintings “impress everyone who has seen them because they are vivid and rich.”Interior with an Egyptian Curtain (1948, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.), Interior with Black Fern (1948, Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel), and Large Red Interior (1948, Centre Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris) made their public debut in February 1949 at Pierre Matisse’s New York gallery, where they were displayed unframed so that visitors would feel embraced and then transported by the color. The critic Clement Greenberg was not alone in concluding that “Matisse is at the present moment painting as well as he ever has painted before, and in some respects perhaps, even better.”

Matisse: In Search of True Painting is organized at The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Rebecca Rabinow, Curator in the Museum’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art. Earlier presentations of the exhibition were held at Centre Pompidou, Musée Nationale d’Art Moderne, Paris (Matisse: Paires et Séries, March 7-June 18, 2012, organized by Cécile Debray) and at Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen (Matisse: Fordobling og Variation, July 14-October 28, 2012, organized by Dorthe Aagesen).

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue edited for the presentations at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), Young Sailor I, 1906, Oil on canvas, 99.7 x 81.3 cm, Collection of Sheldon H. Solow, © 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), Interior with an Egyptian Curtain, 1948, Oil on canvas, 116.2 x 89.2 cm, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., © 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), Apples, 1916, Oil on canvas, 116.8 x 88.9 cm, The Art Institute of Chicago, Gift of Florene May Schoenborn and
Samuel A. Marx, © 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), Laurette in a Green Robe, Black Background, 1916, Oil on canvas, 73 x 54.3 cm., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998 (1999.363.43), © 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), Le Luxe I, 1907, Oil on canvas, 210 x 138 cm, Centre Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris, Purchase, 1945, © 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.


Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), Le Luxe II, 1907-08, Distemper on canvas, 209.5 x 138 cm, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, J. Rump Collection, © 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), Still Life with Purro II, 1904-5, Oil on canvas, 27.9 x 35.6 cm, Private collection, © 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

 

Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Le Luxe I, MNAM, Centre Pompidou, Paris. Photo: RMN, Paris. © Succession H. Matisse/BilledKunst Copydan 2012. 1907, Oil on canvas, 210 x 138 cm.

Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Matisse with his wife and daughter in the studio in Collioure, summer 1907. In the background Le Luxe I, Archives Matisse, Paris, 1907, Photo.

Henri Matisse's Process, Exploring, Doubting, and Repeating Motifs

Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Interior with Goldfish, MNAM, Centre Pompidou, Paris. Photo: RMN, Paris. © Succession H. Matisse/BilledKunst Copydan 2012. 1914, Oil on canvas, 147 x 97 cm.

Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Nasturtiums with the Painting 'Dance' I, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. © Succession H. Matisse/BilledKunst Copydan 2012. 1912, Oil on canvas, 191,8 x 115,3 cm.

 

Statens Museum for Kunst
Sølvgade 48-50
+ 33-74-84-94
Copenhagen
Matisse – Doubles and Variations
July 14-October 28, 2012

Matisse’s approach to visual language was not quite as effortless and unproblematic as the final images may suggest. The exhibition Matisse – Doubles and Variations presents a picture of an artist who retained an exploring — and frequently doubting — approach to his art throughout his life, constantly testing and challenging his own mode of expression. Or, as he himself put it: ”My concern is to push further and deeper into true painting.”

Presenting 53 paintings, 15 drawings, and 22 photographs — many of them major masterpieces — the exhibition provides an overview of Matisse’s life’s work from the very beginnings of his career to the end. However, this exhibitions differs from standard retrospectives about this French artist by virtue of its insistent focus on the artistic process itself; here, Matisse’s method of exploration comes under close scrutiny.

Special attention is directed towards how the artist would repeat the same motif in series and pairs while systematically varying the colours and modes of expression. The exhibition juxtaposes a wide range of these interrelated works, several of which have rarely been shown together since they left the artist’s studio.

This year’s main exhibition at the National Gallery of Denmark brings together a range of masterpieces by Matisse from museums and private collections from all across the world. The exhibition, which is realised as a result of co-operation between the National Gallery of Denmark, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, adds a new chapter to our shared understanding of the French master painter.

A Quiet Dissident Henri Matisse (1869-1954) is one of the main figures of art history in general and one of the most far-reaching innovators of the art of painting in the 20th century. His bold deformation of the human figure, his coarse lines, his liberation of colour, and his highly insistent accentuation of the painterly marked a clear break with the expectations of art prevalent at the time.

Yet while his shocked contemporaries viewed these features as horrendously barbaric, Matisse himself had no desire for conflict and provocation. Rather, the paintings — with their sense of harmony and optimistic colour schemes — were intended to offer a moment of pleasure, independent from the toils and tragedies of everyday life.

Photo documentation and technical studies During some periods of his career Matisse had his works photographed at crucial stages of the creative process. The photographs offered a way at capturing a range of possible solutions for each painting, documenting the often dramatic changes that would take place from one day to the next.

The exhibition presents a range of these photographs, which testify to how the process itself was often as important to the artist as the final outcome. The exhibition also presents the results of technical studies conduced on a number of central works over the course of the years of research that preceded the exhibition. Together, these studies and photographs offer visitors a chance to gain deep insights into Matisse’s working process.

The exhibition has a chronological structure that allows visitors to trace how Matisse would often repeat and return to his subjects at different stages of his career.

Book to accompany the exhibition In conjunction with the exhibition, the National Gallery of Denmark and The Metropolitan Museum of Art publishes the comprehensive catalogue Matisse – In Search of True Painting. The catalogue is edited by the two curators Rebecca Rabinow (Metropolitan) and Dorthe Aagesen (National Gallery of Denmark) and features 28 articles by the world’s leading Matisse scholars, 256 pages, lavishly illustrated, Price: DKK 298. Available from the Gallery bookshop, ISBN: 978-1-58839-467-5.

Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Goldfish and Palette, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © Succession H. Matisse/BilledKunst Copydan 2012. 1914-15, Oil on canvas, 146,7 x 112,4 cm.

Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Still Life with Magnolia, MNAM, Centre Pompidou, Paris. Photo: RMN, Paris. © Succession H. Matisse/BilledKunst Copydan 2012. 1941, Oil on canvas, 74 x 101 cm,

Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Five stages and the final stage of Still Life with Magnolia, Archives Matisse, Paris.

 

Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Le Luxe II, National Gallery of Denmark. © Succession H. Matisse/BilledKunst Copydan 2012. 1907-08, Oil on canvas, 209,5 x 138 cm

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954). Blue Nude (Memory of Biskra), 1907. 92.1 x 140.4 cm, The Baltimore Museum of Art, The Cone Collection, BMA 1950.228. © 2010 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954). Bathers by a River, 1909-10, 1913, 1916-17. Oil on canvas, 260 x 392 cm, The Art Institute of Chicago, Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection, 1953.158. © 2010 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954). Bathers with a Turtle, 1907-08. Oil on canvas, 179.1 x 220.3 cm (70 1/2 x 87 3/4 in.) Saint Louis Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Pulitzer Jr., 24:1964. © 2010 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954). The Piano Lesson, 1916. Oil on canvas, 245.1 x 212.7 cm, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund, 1946. © 2010 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954). The Window, 1916. Oil on canvas, 146.1 x 116.8 cm, The Detroit Institute of Arts, City of Detroit Purchase, 22.14. © 2010 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954). Shaft of Sunlight, the Woods of Trivaux, 1917. Oil on canvas, 91 x 74 cm, Private collection. © 2010 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Alvin Langdon Coburn (British, 1882-1966). Henri Matisse painting Bathers by a River, May 13, 1913. Photograph. Courtesy of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester, 1979:3924:0012.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954). The Italian Woman, 1916. Oil on canvas, 116.7 x 89.5 cm, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, by exchange, 1982, 82.2946. © 2010 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

 

Art Institute of Chicago
111 South Michigan Avenue
312-443-3600
Chicago
Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917
March 20-June 20, 2010

Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917 examines the period of Matisse's production from his return to Paris from Morocco in 1913 to his departure for Nice in 1917. Though this period spans only five years, it represents a major turning point in Matisse's career, the years when he developed his most demanding, experimental, and enigmatic works: paintings that are abstracted and rigorously purged of descriptive detail, geometric and sharply composed, and dominated by the colors black and gray. Previously considered to be responses to Cubism or World War I, or simply unrelated aberrations of the artist's development, works from this period are here reassessed and presented as one of the most significant chapters of Matisse's evolution as an artist.

The Art Institute of Chicago and The Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMA) have co-organized the ambitious exhibition that presents, for the first time, a seminal investigation of a pivotal point in the career of Henri Matisse (1869-1954), one of the 20th century's most significant artists. Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917 premieres at the Art Institute and then travels to MoMA, where it is on view July 18-October 11, 2010. Nearly 120 of the artist's paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints from this five-year period will be presented, including the masterpieces Bathers by a River (1909-10, 1913, 1916-17) and The Moroccans (1915-16). This is the first exhibition devoted solely to the work of this important period in Matisse's career, thoroughly exploring his early working process as well as his revolutionary experimentation, or what he called his "methods of modern construction."

A highlight of the exhibition is the Art Institute's monumental painting, Bathers by a River. This painting has been the subject of extensive art-historical, archival, and scientific research that unlocks Matisse's working methods. A painting that Matisse worked on repeatedly over a period of many years, Bathers by a River provides the key to the development of the artist's revolutionary style of this time. The subject of study for four years, Art Institute curators and conservators wedded new archival information and new imaging technologies to uncover the history of this painting's evolution and its surprising connections with other works, most significantly The Museum of Modern Art's The Moroccans and The Piano Lesson (1916). MoMA has likewise engaged in an investigation of works in its collection, and, through this partnership, new information about Matisse's experimental techniques.

Building on this research, Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917 showcases a wide range of Matisse's paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints primarily from 1913 to 1917. Visitors will be able to experience the exhibition not only through such important paintings as Interior with Goldfish Bowl (1914) and Portrait of Yvonne Landsberg (1914), but also through closer looks at the artist's sculptures known as Back I, II, III, IV, and his innovative etchings, engravings, and monotypes — dramatic prints that the artist made only during the 1913-17 period. Also included in the exhibition is a special presentation of Matisse's little-known Civil Prisoners of Bohain-en-Vermandois series that demonstrates how the artist attempted to unite his art, life, and wartime concerns during these years.

Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917 explores the critical interplay of Matisse's works and presents his great achievements as the product of this concentrated period of rigorous experimentation. Supplemented by graphic didactic materials and texts as well as audiovisual presentations of the conservation research involved in the project, Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917 redefines our perception of this modern master and his art.

Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917 is accompanied by a lavishly illustrated catalogue published by the Art Institute and distributed by Yale University Press. It will be available early April 2010.

Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917 is curated by Stephanie D'Alessandro, Gary C. and Frances Comer Curator of Modern Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, and John Elderfield, Chief Curator Emeritus of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Major funding for Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917 is provided by Harris Family Foundation in memory of Bette and Neison Harris. Additional funding is provided by Emily Rauh Pulitzer. This project was partially funded by a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Bureau of Tourism. Major funding for the exhibition catalogue is generously provided by The Aaron I. Fleischman Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Dedalus Foundation.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954). Apples, 1916. Oil on canvas, 116.9 x 88.9 cm, The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of Florene May Schoenborn and Samuel A. Marx, 1948.563. © 2010 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954). Eva Mudocci, 1916. Graphite on three pieces of paper, mounted to canvas, 92.7 x 71.1 cm, Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection, 2002, 2002.456.41. © 2010 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954). Portrait of Yvonne Landsberg, 1914. Oil on canvas, 147.3 x 97.5 cm, Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Louise and Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950, 1950-134-130. © 2010 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954). Interior with Goldfish, 1914. Oil on canvas, 147 x 97 cm, Musée National d’Art Moderne/Centre de Création Industrielle, Centre Pompidou, Paris, bequest of Baroness Eva Gourgaud, 1965, AM 4311 P. © 2010 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954). Le luxe (II), 1907. Distemper on canvas, 209.5 x 138 cm, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, KMSr76. © 2010 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954). The Moroccans, 1915-16. Oil on canvas, 181.3 x 279.4 cm, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel A. Marx, 1955. © 2010 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

 

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954). Flowers and Ceramic Plate, 1913. Oil on canvas, 93.5 x 82.5 cm, Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main, SG 1213. © 2010 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

 

Henri Matisse, The Serf, 1900-3; Bronze; 36-1/8 x 14-7/8 x 13", Collection San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Bequest of Harriet Lane Levy, © 2007, Succession H. Matisse, Paris/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse: Sculptural Origins in Paintings and Works on Paper

Henri Matisse, Reclining Nude I (Aurora), detail, 1907; Bronze; 13-9/16 x 19-5/8 x 11", The Baltimore Museum of Art, The Cone Collection, formed by Dr. Claribel Cone and Miss Etta Cone of Baltimore, Maryland,© 2007 Succession H. Matisse, Paris/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Henri Matisse, Study of a Nude, 1899, 65.5 x 50 cm, Bridgestone Museum of Art, Tokyo.

Henri Matisse, Male Model, ca. 1900; Oil on canvas; 39-1/8 x 28-5/8 in.; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Kay Sage Tanguy Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Funds, 1975,© 2007 Succession H. Matisse, Paris/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

 

San Francisco
Museum of Modern Art
151 Third Street
(between Mission
and Howard Streets)
415-357-4000
San Francisco
Matisse: Painter As Sculptor
June 9-September 16, 2007

Matisse: Painter as Sculptor features more than 150 works in a variety of media to illustrate the artist’s inventiveness, dexterity, and historical significance. Side-by-side presentations of two- and three-dimensional pieces showcase the way themes, imagery, and processes overlapped in Matisse’s studio practice, while a selection of works by the artist’s peers — including Constantin Brancusi, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Alberto Giacometti, Pablo Picasso, and Auguste Rodin, among other modern masters — provides a vivid context for considering Matisse’s oeuvre.

Matisse: Painter as Sculptor is organized thematically around a core group of more than 40 of Matisse’s sculptural masterpieces, which are complemented by a selection of related works on paper, paintings, and original photographs of the artist in his studio. These integrated groupings illuminate the evolution of Matisse’s sculptural ideas and his complex creative process. The exhibition explores how the artist’s drawings may have developed through sculpture and how sculpture may have influenced his painting. Matisse’s bronze sculpture Reclining Nude I (Aurora) (1907) appears alongside the painting Blue Nude: Memory of Biskra (1907), a canvas that the artist was painting during a key and difficult moment in the modeling of the sculpture. The painted and sculpted representations of the reclining female nude evolved together and were inextricably linked. Other exhibition highlights include the bronze sculptures Madeleine I (1901) and Madeleine II (1903), the five portrait busts of Jeanette (1910–14), and the monumental series of four bronze reliefs known as The Backs (1909–30), Matisse’s most sustained exploration of the reduction and abstraction of the human form.

Born Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse in Le Cateau-Cambrésis, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France, he grew up in Bohain-en-Vermandois. In 1887 he went to Paris to study law, working as a court administrator in Le Cateau-Cambrésis after gaining his qualification. He first started painting during a period of convalescence following an attack of appendicitis, and discovered "a kind of paradise" as he later described it. In 1891 he returned to Paris to study art at the Académie Julian and became a student of William-Adolphe Bouguereau and Gustave Moreau. Influenced by the works of the post-Impressionists Paul Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh and Paul Signac, and also by Japanese art, he made colour a crucial element of his paintings from the start. Many of his paintings from 1899 to 1905 make use of a pointillist technique adopted from Signac.

His first exhibition was in 1901 and his first solo exhibition in 1904. His fondness for bright and expressive colour became more pronounced after he moved southwards in 1905 to work with André Derain and spent time on the French Riviera. The paintings of this period are characterized by flat shapes and controlled lines, with expression dominant over detail. He became known as a leader of the Fauves (wild beasts), a group of artists which also included Derain, Georges Braque, Raoul Dufy and Maurice Vlaminck. The decline of the Fauvist movement after 1906 did nothing to affect the rise of Matisse; many of his finest works were created between 1906 and 1917 when he was an active part of the great gathering of artistic talent in Montparnasse. Matisse had a long association with the art collector Sergei Shchukin. He made one of his major works La Danse specially for Shchukin.

He was a friend as well as rival of his younger contemporary Picasso, to whom he is often compared. A key difference between them is that Matisse drew and painted from nature, while Picasso was much more inclined to work from imagination. The subjects painted most frequently by both artists were women and still lifes, with Matisse more likely to place his figures in fully realized interiors.

Matisse lived in Cimiez on the French Riviera, now a suburb of the city of Nice, from 1917 until his death in 1954. His work of the decade or so following this relocation shows a relaxation and a softening of his approach. This "return to order" is characteristic of much art of the post-World War I period, and can be compared with the neoclassicism of Picasso and Stravinsky, and the return to traditionalism of Derain. After 1930 a new vigour and bolder simplification appear. In 1941 he was diagnosed with cancer and, following surgery, he started using a wheelchair. Matisse did not allow this setback to halt his work, and with the aid of assistants he set about creating cut paper collages, often on a large scale, called gouaches découpés. His Blue Nudes series feature prime examples of this technique; these demonstrate the ability to bring his eye for colour and geometry to a new medium of utter simplicity, but with playful and delightful power.

The first painting of Matisse acquired by a public collection was Still Life with Geranium in 1910, today exhibited in the Pinakothek der Moderne.

Today, a Matisse painting can fetch as much as US $17 million. In 2002, a Matisse sculpture, Reclining Nude I (Dawn), sold for US $9.2 million, a record for a sculpture by the artist.

Matisse's son, Pierre Matisse, during the 1930s went on to open an important modern art gallery in New York City. Pierre Matisse represented and exhibited many European artists in New York for the first time. He exhibited Joan Miró, Marc Chagall, Alberto Giacometti, Jean Dubuffet, André Derain, Yves Tanguy, Paul Delvaux, Wilfredo Lam, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Balthus, Leonora Carrington, sculptors Raymond Mason and Reg Butler, and several other important artists, including the work of Henri Matisse. His grandson, Paul Matisse, is an artist and inventor living in Massachusetts.

Henri Matisse, Blue Nude: Memory of Biskra (Nu bleu: Souvenir de Biskra), detail, 1907; Oil on canvas; 36-¼ x 55", The Baltimore Museum of Art, The Cone Collection, formed by Dr. Claribel Cone and Miss Etta Cone of Baltimore, Maryland,© 2007 Succession H. Matisse, Paris/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.