Henri Matisse Blog

Folkwang and the ecstasy of colour


Feb 15 2012 10:50PM | by Staff Editor

Museum Folkwang is a cool museum. Note to self: give name of museum to writers of such movies as Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and perhaps get a chuckle out of it next time. Nevertheless, moving on to more serious artistic matters, especially ones that are weighty and ones that focus on the likes of Matisse and the Fauves themselves. For a short time in April, people bold enough to travel to Essen, Germany, will get a look at The Ecstasy of Colour, which not only features Matisse, but Munch and other Expressionists that changed the world. The exhibition is unique from past Fauve exhibitions in that it pits the French wild ones, such as Henri Matisse, Maurice de Vlaminck, André Derain and the Norwegian Edvard Munch, against the Russian and German Expressionists such as Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Alexey von Jawlensky, Vassily Kandinsky, Franz Marc and Gabriele Münter. A look at the shortlist of above names and we’d want to book our tickets and hotels too. As such, the artwork produced by the artists in Germany closely followed the new painting movement in France and made it the starting point of their own revolutionary development. Folkwang... Read more

Woman With A Hat and Fauvism


Jan 22 2012 09:58PM | by Staff Editor

When Henri Matisse was choosing paintings to exhibit at the 1905 Salon d’Automne in Paris, it is unlikely that he could have foreseen the backlash and hostile reception that his work would elicit from the Parisian public and from the art critics of the day. The oil painting that seemed to be singled out, receiving much of the harshest criticism was La Femme Au Chapeau (Woman With A Hat) that Matisse had created earlier that year. Many believe that the woman that is depicted in the painting was Matisse’s wife Amélie who along with his daughter Marguerite, would often serve as models for the French post-Impressionist. But it wasn’t the subject of Woman With A Hat that provoked such a vitriolic response, but rather Matisse’s treatment of her and the style of the painting. The style of painting that may have seemed so controversial at the time had in fact been initially developed prior to the start of the 20th Century by Gustave Moreau, the French Symbolist painter who had taught Matisse at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Moreau had often emphasised the expressive potency of pure colour, and Matisse took Moreau’s lessons to heart while also learning colour... Read more

Matisse And The Other Mural


Jan 10 2012 05:34PM | by Staff Editor

As we’ve previously examined in an earlier post, French Fauvist and Impressionist, Henri Matisse, created a series of historic murals at the Chapelle Du Rosaire (Chapel of the Rosary), sometimes referred to as the Matisse Chapel or the Vence Chapel, in the small town of Vence on the French Riviera. Matisse himself described the work as his “masterpiece” and despite his advanced age, being 77 at the time when the project began in 1947, he worked diligently on it for more than four years, until the building of the chapel and Matisse’s decoration was completed in 1951. In addition to the three great murals that Matisse created, St Dominic, Virgin And Child and Station Of The Cross, he also worked on the chapel’s architecture, stained glass windows, interior furnishings and the vestments for the priests. What may perhaps not be widely known is that Matisse had actually created another iconic mural almost 20 years earlier in 1932. The mural came about after Matisse met Albert C. Barnes, an American chemist who made his fortune after developing the gonorrhoea antiseptic drug Argyrol. Delightful stuff. By his late thirties Barnes had begun to devote himself to the appreciation and collection of modern... Read more

Matisse And The World’s Most Expensive Scarf


Dec 27 2011 01:42PM | by Staff Editor

French Fauvist, Modernist and Impressionist Henri Matisse was renowned in the art world as a master of many styles as well as a master of many mediums. In addition to the oil on canvas paintings that he created and which we celebrate on this site, Matisse was a highly accomplished draughtsman, printmaker and sculptor who was able to impart the same themes and styling into his work, regardless of the medium. We’ve previously looked into his paper cut out phase that was the main focus of an exhibition in England this year. Last week we went into detail about the groundbreaking exhibition of his drawings in Australia. And we’ve heard about his iconic sculptures, The Back Series, being auctioned off individually by Sotheby’s in the States. However it was Matisse’s involvement in the creation of art in another medium, which was setting records over the summer earlier this year, although you may not have head much about it in the mainstream media. The medium in question is fabrics and textiles – so often ignored or overlooked as a field of appreciation in fine arts – and the item in question was a scarf that was created by Matisse back in... Read more

The Sketches That Underpinned Matisse’s Career


Dec 25 2011 09:24PM | by Staff Editor

Back in October we mentioned that a new exhibition of work Henri Matisse was due to open at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane, Australia. Well it was opened last Saturday by Queensland Arts Minister Rachel Nolan, and the groundbreaking display of Matisse artwork will serve as the highlight of the 5th anniversary celebrations for GoMA in Brisbane. What’s groundbreaking about it you may ask? Well, at the exhibition the focus will not be on Matisse oil paintings or sculptures, but solely and exclusively on his huge and often under appreciated catalogue of drawings. More than 300 drawings have been brought together from the National Gallery of Australia, from international museums and galleries and from private collections, with a number of the works on show having never before been on public display. Matisse: Drawing Life, will run until March 4th 2012 and is a unique opportunity for Matisse enthusiasts in Australia to view a number of pieces that have never before left Europe. The exhibition has in fact been in the works for almost 16 years, with Matisse’s grandson Claude Duthuit first suggesting it during a major retrospective of his grandfather’s paintings by the Queensland Art Gallery and Art... Read more

Matisse paintings and his models


Nov 30 2011 06:14PM | by Staff Editor

In 1939, Henri Matisse famously said that he depended “entirely on my model” as partners in his artworks and to help him discover creative impulses, which, like every artist, he sometimes found lacking. A human sounding board was particularly useful considering Matisse tackled complex issues in life: facts and fantasies, the self and others, figures, abstraction and the human form. As anyone who has painted a figure can attest, the difference between a landscape and a still life is distinct. This relationship between painter and model, or specifically, Matisse, is the focus of an exhibition currently held at the Eykyn Maclean Gallery until December 10. Titled “Matisse and the Model”, the show features 46 works that Matisse utilised models in, from 1900 until his death in 1954. Sculptures, paintings, drawings, prints and cut-outs are all included, with many significant works borrowed from leading institutions such as The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Museum of Modern Art (New York), Le Cateau-Cambrésis, Musée départemental Matisse and The Denver Art Museum. Not only did significant art institutions lend their works, the noted Matisse specialist Ann Dumas signed on as curator, leading an all important scholarly examination of the theme. As the catalogue... Read more

Down Under Matisse connection


Nov 20 2011 11:48AM | by Staff Editor

Henri Matisse, widely considered one of the fathers of modern art, was known for his transcendent use of colour, original draughtsmanship skills and his sculpting and printmaking abilities. He was, in other words, well versed in nearly all forms of visual art. However, Matisse remains most recognised for his oil paintings, which he developed as an artist over his long life of 84 years. One significant part of Matisse’s life was his meeting with Australian (our Down Under reference) painter John Peter Russell on the island of Belle Île, first in 1896 and again a year later. Russell introduced him to the style of Impression and critically, the artwork of Van Gogh, who at the time was quite simply a nobody – one has to remember Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime! At this time Matisse’s style evolved drastically, so much so that he would say of Russell and his teaching: “Russell was my teacher, and Russell explained colour theory to me.” So exactly was John Peter Russell? Many refer to Alfred Sisley as the English Impressionist and John Peter Russell receives a similar treatment, although with a touch of mystique – he’s known as the Lost... Read more

Henri Matisse pictures – his art books


Oct 30 2011 11:03AM | by Staff Editor

The mighty British had a popular saying a couple of hundred years ago: the sun never sets on the British Empire. Yes, that’s right. They were oh so mighty that anywhere in the world, at any time, Britain was in the sunlight (hey, we’re communicating in English, so that has to say something). The same could be said for French artist Henri Matisse and his large oeuvre of oil paintings, drawings, sketches and art books: the sun never sets on a gallery displaying or hosting an exhibition featuring Matisse oil paintings. From the northern hemisphere to the south, Matisse is always in vogue regardless of longitude, latitude and attitude – that’s what you get when you’re globally acknowledged as a master. Our next port of call is fittingly Australia, a former British colony where an intriguing exhibition of Matisse is set to start in December. Hosted at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane, “Matisse: Drawing Life” examines a wide swath of Matisse artwork that he drew on paper, including more than 300 drawings, illustrated books and prints. The show is co-curated by the Bibliothèque nationale de France (along with Céline Chicha-Castex, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Prints and independent... Read more

Matisse bronzes and paintings on show and crushed


Oct 18 2011 10:05AM | by Staff Editor

What a sad blog post this will be for lovers of French artistic genius Henri Matisse. Back in May, 2010, an art heist at the Musee d’Art Moderne, near the Eiffel Tower, resulted in a single burglar escaping with five masterpieces, including works by Matisse. The artworks, worth about US$140 million, have since been cut up and crushed in a garbage truck, according to a suspect involved in the crime. French investigators gained the information after they arrested a 34-year-old watch repairer who was an accomplice: identified only as “Jonathan B,” he told investigators he destroyed the paintings when two other men were arrested. Panicking, he sliced and diced the canvasses and threw them in a bin. The Matisse work in question was Pastoral painted in 1906. However, criminal experts have warned that the revelation may be a lie to put off police from finding exactly what happened to the paintings. French police are continuing their investigation. In more positive news, Sotheby’s will be auctioning off a Matisse series of bronze back nudes, known as Les Nus de dos, or simply The Backs. The first sculpture, known as Nu de dos, will go on sale on November 2 at Sotheby’s... Read more

Matisse Dance I and II remastered


Oct 02 2011 12:03PM | by Staff Editor

The digital revolution is changing the way we do everything, and art is no exception. Although oil paintings will remain safe in their classical domain, the interpretation of them has been constantly changing. The Matisse paintings Dance are no exception. The two artworks are related and were painted in 1909 and 1910. The first is considered a groundwork painting for the second version, but both are now considered significant works of the Matisse oeuvre. So what were “La Danse” all about? Matisse started the first oil painting in March 1909 as a study for the second painting. As such, the figures have considerably less detail than the second painting, but its strength is that it possesses a high level of luminosity. The painting was donated to New York’s Museum of Modern Art in New York by Nelson Rockefeller, in honour of Alfred H. Barr, Jr. The second version of the Matisse painting, known as Dance second version (as opposed to Dance II), is a large and more detailed artwork, also showing five dancing figures. However, the figures are painted in a characteristically fauvist fashion: bright red for the figures, with surrounding warm and intense colours, offset against the background of... Read more

Matisse paintings, his grandson and a Kalliroscope


Sep 04 2011 09:39PM | by Staff Editor

For French artist Henri Matisse, colour was just about everything. If Matisse owned a fast-food (or rather, fast-art) joint, you might expect him to ask “would you like colours with that” for any Matisse oil painting set meal you’d order. Any Matisse painting you see is instantly recognisable because of the bright and bold colours, as well as his original and fluid draughtsmanship. So is it any wonder, or was it perhaps pure chance, that his grandson Paul would one day go on and invent the Kalliroscope? The whhhhhhhatttttttt you might say? That’s right, the Kalliroscope. In many ways it is related to its more common cousin, the kaleidoscope. But the Kalliroscope is in many ways more cult, more pro, more nerdy and certainly more obscure (so much so that when writing this, the spell checker in MS Word just highlights it red). Simply put, the Kalliroscope is an art device based on rheoscopic fluids invented by artist Paul Matisse, grandson of Henri Matisse. The rheoscopic fluids (just a fancy-pants way of meaning “current showing”) are suspended in dishes and platelets and then observed with microscopes as they flow around – the motions, preferential alignments, overall particle orientations and the... Read more

Matisse and his children: Vive la résistance


Aug 08 2011 10:14AM | by Staff Editor

It’s always fascinating to see where the children of famous people end up. Will they suffer in the relative shadow of their parents, mooch off the fame and money, struggle to make a name for themselves and eventually drown in a pool of self-pity, low self esteem, drugs and alcohol? Perhaps that point of view is too Hollywood and more related to the failure of the American dream. Nevertheless, it would seem more pertinent to refocus on the topic on hand. Henri Matisse and his children. The artist, and the range of Matisse oil paintings, of course requires no introduction. The important thing to note is that Matisse lived to the ripe old age of 84, long enough for his work and name to be recognised, leading to some financial benefits later in life. Thus his children, although born with a famous last name, did not immediately know the effect fame and celebrity can bring. His first child was a daughter named Marguerite, born in 1894 to one of his models, Caroline Joblau. In 1898 he married Amélie Noellie Parayre. The couple raised Marguerite together and also had two sons, Jean (born 1899) and Pierre (born 1900). Today we’ll take... Read more

Drawing with Scissors: The Art Books of Henri Matisse


Jul 24 2011 09:59PM | by Staff Editor

It won’t be long before people forget what a book is. Kids will think magazines are just collections of images on a pixilated screen. Fewer and fewer people remember what a collage is, except maybe a function on an illustration program. As the tide of technology shifts away from paper, and tree-advocates and recycle monkeys make their cases for the conservation of printouts, we may be losing a profound joy: the feeling of scissors as they shear through a piece of paper. In Dublin, The Art Books of Henri Matisse showcases a collection of tomes by the artist. The exhibition includes Jazz, a volume including cutouts and stencils created by the Matisse in 1947. Among the Matisse images chosen for display are Icarus, Sword Swallower, High Wire Act, Cowboy, and Swimmer in the Tank. The portfolio itself is loosely based around the themes of circus and theatre. All of these pieces represent a new style of art Matisse pioneered that consisted of a process dubbed as “drawing with scissors”. You will not find this exhibition in a gallery however. These never-before-seen Matisse images and cutouts, which have been released from the Bank of America Merrill Lynch art collection, will be... Read more

Matisse and the Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence (Chapel of the Rosary)


Jul 11 2011 11:54AM | by Staff Editor

A casual tourist visiting the picturesque city of Vence, France, might mistake the simple white exterior of the Vence Chapel as a generic replica similar to hundreds dotting the European continent. Nothing particularly striking marks it as the self-proclaimed masterpiece of painting maestro Henri Matisse. Rather the building, also known as the Matisse Chapel or the Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence, has an understated elegance masking its exclusive and stunning interior. Enter, and you’d discover why many regard it as one of the great religious structures built in the 20th century. Matisse started the project at the age of 77 and it took him, along with everyone else who worked on the project, four years to complete after the first stone was laid in 1948. This was the first time a painter designed every detail of a religious structure: Matisse drew up the plans for the edifice and decorations, including the ceramics, stalls, stoup, religious objects, priestly objects, stained glass windows and the three interior murals. The murals are considered the highlight of the chapel – each features white tiles which Matisse painted on. The tiles, each measuring 12 inches by 12 inches, were then fired in a kiln, preserving... Read more

Mad if you ‘Matissed’ it: The Steins Collect exhibition


May 24 2011 10:17AM | by Staff Editor

From May 21 to September 6 this year the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will debut the exhibition The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso and the Parisian Avant-Garde. The exhibition is jointly organised with the Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and will travel to Paris and New York after San Francisco. It is particularly notable because, for the first time in a generation, it will combine many works of the great modern artists, including the famous Matisse painting Blue Nude. It will also incorporate never before shown observations and accounts of and by Henri Matisse. As the title of the exhibition suggests, a large part of the display will feature Matisse and his frenemy like relationship with Picasso. Gallery goers will be treated to transcriptions and pages from a 1908 notebook kept by Sarah Stein, the sister-in-law of the famous American writer and collector, Gertrude Stein. Sarah Stein lived in Paris for several years and kept a series of notebooks and diaries. One in particular was thought lost until it was rediscovered in Sarah’s grandson’s estate recently. It details the time she was an art student of the great Henri Matisse, and... Read more

Painting by Henri Matisse Gets a Facelift


May 03 2011 09:26AM | by Staff Editor

The early 1900s played host to a radical change in painting. New paints made with cadmium and chromium were developed. These paints held brilliant hues of yellow and orange that weren't available in paints made conventionally. Painters such as Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse became enamored with these yellows and oranges and began to use them enthusiastically in their paintings. While this allowed them to generate some of the most vibrant and beloved paintings in history, the paints were not designed to last and many of these paintings are deteriorating before our eyes. Once such painting by Henri Matisse, Le Bonheur de Vivre, has shown significant deterioration. Yellows are turning to tan and off-white. Some paint is beginning to flake away entirely. Curators at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia are researching the problem and working to stop the damage before it progresses further. Chemists with the National Chemical Society in California are researching the instability of the paint, hoping to find a way to repair the damage that has already occurred. Our painters do not use paints known to be volatile. This doesn't mean, however, that our oil paintings can be treated indelicately. Oil paintings are truly... Read more

Al Pacino to Play Henri Matisse in a New Movie


Apr 26 2011 11:06AM | by Staff Editor

Yet another movie about Henri Matisse is in the works, and the lead role is rumored to be taken by Al Pacino. The movie is tentatively entitled "Masterpiece," and will be directed by Deepa Mehta of "Hollywood Bollywood" fame. Donald Martin wrote the script, which focuses on the relationship between Henri Matisse and his nurse Madeline Bourgeois. This juicy story has been the subject of gossip and speculation since the 1940s, when the tale begins. In 1942, when Matisse was recovering from intestinal surgery, he placed an ad in a local paper for a "young and pretty night nurse." It's well known that Matisse enjoyed the company of women, and his paintings are full of images of lovely women. Consider the Matisse painting Harmony in Red with the pensive model in the lower corner and the racy Pink Nude with its gigantic female model. An artist who enjoyed women this much would likely have healed quickly in the company of a pretty girl. Bourgeois answered the ad, and began to work with Matisse as he recovered. As he healed, he began to speak feely with Bourgeois, giving her art lessons and asking her to sit for portraits. The war in... Read more

Michelangelo and Henri Matisse: Exhibition Explores Links


Apr 10 2011 05:35PM | by Staff Editor

It has long been assumed that artwork by Matisse was executed quickly, with an emphasis on emotion and spontaneity over studies and sketches. A new exhibit at the Museo di Santa Giulia in Italy has dispelled this theory. In fact, the exhibit explores the relentless study Matisse made of a sculpture by Michelangelo.  Michelangelo's sculpture Night was generated for the Medici Chapel in Florence and is considered one of the masterpieces of Renaissance sculpture. The reclining nude has an expression of repose, but her body is held in an extremely twisted position. Her right arm touches her raised left knee and her middle is bent and wrinkled. Renaissance painters and sculptors loved these twisted positions, called contrapposto, as they felt it gave human forms a feeling of both languid relaxation and coiled tension, all at the same time. Matisse discovered a plaster cast of Night in a local art school in 1918 and became completely enraptured with it. He drew multiple sketches of the sculpture, hoping his studies of her form would translate into his own paintings. And his paintings began to take on this sort of realistic contrapposto. Consider Blue Nude, painted in 1907. While the figure does hold... Read more