Monday, July 26, 2010

Jill Krementz Photo Journal - Matisse at MoMA

Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917
July 18-October 11, 2010
The Museum of Modern Art

For lovers of Matisse, and that's probably most of you, there's a large-scale show of this great artist's work at MoMA.

The exhibition is the result of a five-year collaboration between The Museum of Modern Art and The Art Institute of Chicago and their respective curators, John Elderfield and Stephanie D'Alessendro. The focus is on five years of Matisses's life, from his return to Paris from Morocco in 1913 to his departure for Nice in 1917.

Comprising nearly 110 of the artist's works-paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints — this show sheds light on Matisse's evolution as an artist and explores his working process and the revolutionary experimentation of what Matisse called his “methods of modern construction.”

The works are organized chronologically with the first few galleries devoted to the immediately preceding years of 1907-1912. When Matisse was 22 years old he began to study under the Symbolist painter, Gustave Moreau, who sent his pupils to make copies of Old Master paintings in the Musée du Louvre.

Timed tickets are required for entry to this exhibition, except for MoMA members and their guests who may enter at any time. On Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 at 6pm in the Celeste Bartos Auditorium, John Elderfield will give a talk: Henri Matisse in the Twenty-First Century.
Glenn Lowry welcomes guests at Matisse Press Preview.
Stephanie D'Alessandro and John Elderfield, co-curators of the Matisse exhibition. Ms. D'Alessandro is a curator of Modern Art at the Art Institute of Chicago; Mr. Elderfield is Chief Curator Emeritus of Painting and Sculpture at MoMA, and is thought to be the world's foremost Matisse expert. The exhibition is the result of a five-year collaboration between the two museums.
John Elderfield. Stephanie D'Alessandro.
Claude Duthuit, grandson of Henri Matisse, who flew to New York from Paris for the opening of the exhibition.
Simon Schama, art historian and television commentator. Mr. Schama is a contributing editor of the Financial Times. Mary Tompkins Lewis, art historian and critic for The Wall Street Journal.
Douglas Druick, head of Department of Paintings and Sculpture at The Art Institute of Chicago. Christiane Fischer, Glenn Lowry, Kip Condron, and Peter Kraus.
Ms. Fischer is President and CEO of AXA Art Insurance Corporation. Mr. Condron is Chairman and CEO of AXA Equitable. Mr. Kraus is President and Ceo of AllianceBernstein, and his wife is a trustee of MoMA. AXA and AllianceBernstein underwrote the Matisse exhibition.
Left: Moma's Chief Curator of Art and Sculpture, Ann Temkin, with Director Glenn Lowry. Above: Detail of Ms. Temkin's very cool dress.
Art Critics John Zeaman and Barbara Hoffman. Joan Rosenbaum, Director of The Jewish Museum, with Alexandra Schwartz of Pace Prints. Ms. Rosenbaum and Ms. Schwartz both started their careers in the 70s working as colleagues in MoMA's drawing and print department. They have been close friends ever since. In the fall there will be a great show devoted to Houdini at The Jewish Museum, replete with performing magicians.
Larry Gagosian. Janet Wallach and Robert B. Menschel with New York Times photographer, Bill Cunningham.
Stiles Colwill in front of painting, The Blue Nude. Mr. Colwill is the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Baltimore Museum of Art, which lent a painting to the exhibition. "We have the largest collection of Matisse in the United States. We also lent a few bronzes to this exhibition."

The internationally renowned Cone Collection of modern art is the crown jewel of the BMA. In the early 20th century, Baltimore sisters Claribel and Etta Cone visited the Paris studios of Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso and acquired an exceptional collection of approximately 3,000 objects, which were displayed in their Baltimore apartments. The highlight is a group of 500 works by Matisse, considered the largest and most significant in the world.
Jay Fisher, Chief Curator at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Mr. Fisher is one of the great Matisse experts. Art historian Monroe Denton who is on the board at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Mr. Denton has taught for many years at the School of Visual Arts and is about to go off to the Caucasus as a member of The Peace Corps.
Claude Duthuit and Stiles Colwill. Alfred Taubman.
Rosalind Joseph, head of Global Media Public Relations for AXA Art Group, co-sponsor of the
Matisse exhibition.
Sally and Wynn Kramarsky. Lawrence Luhring (co-owner of Luhring-Augustine Gallery in Chelsea) with Jerry Speyer, Chairman of MoMA's trustees.
Ed Bleir. Leonard Lopate, WNYC radio host, and his lady friend, artist Melanie Baker.
Ann Temkin, chief curator at MoMA, with Joe Rishel, Chief Curator at Philadelphia Museum of Art. Dawn Francique, who is an art director for William Morris Endeavor. Ms. Francique has worked on print ads for Revlon.
MoMA press officer Paul Jackson. MoMA's Sabine Breitwieser and Christophe Cherix. Ms. Breitwieser is the Chief Curator of Media and Performance Art, and Mr. Cherix recently co-curated the museum's Contemporary Art exhibition.
Elisabeth Biondi, Photography editor of The New Yorker Magazine. Jeanne Collins Elderfield with her husband, John Elderfield.
Jeanne Collins Elderfield, John and Anne Coffin, and John Elderfield. Ms. Coffin is the founder of the International Print Center in Chelsea.
Caroline Duffy with her uncle, Jim Duffy. Ms. Duffy works at a restaurant in Denver. Artist Frank Stella. Mr. Stella is wearing a shirt recently purchased at The New Orleans Jazz Festival.
Paola Zanzo-Sahl wearing a searsucker suit (she cut off the trousers to convert to shorts for NYC's heat wave). Ms. Zanzo is in charge of special events at MoMA. Pierre de Gasquet, New York Bureau Chief for Les Echos, with his wife Ariel.
Michael Lynne. Gallery owner Roland Augustine with MoMA's Glenn Lowry.
Michael Duffy, Stephanie D'Alessandro, Barry Rice, and David Round. Mr. Duffy, according to Ms. D'Alessandro, was "one of the Matisse team who traveled with all of us ... he was right at the helm ... and he's a great guy."
Painter and poet, Luigi Terruso. Alden Warner, a banker, and Peter Reed, who is MoMA's Senior Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs.
Reclining Nude
Collioure, January-February 1907
Clay, cast in bronze c. 1912
Fruit and Foliage (after Cézanne)
Cézanne (Paris: Bernheim-Jeune,1914)
plate 5
Issy-les-Moulineaux, late fall 1913
Lithograph on paper
Le Luxe (II)
Collioure or Paris, Couvent des Oiseaux
summer-fall 1907
Distemper on canvas
Nude by the Sea
July-August 1909
Oil on canvas
Bathers with a Turtle
Paris, Couvent des Oiseaux and Couvent du Sacre Coeur
December 1907-February 1908
Oil on canvas
Caviliere, summer 1909
Oil on canvas

Nude with a White Scarf
Paris, Couvent du Sacre Coeur, March-May 1909
Oil on canvas
Seated Female Nude, Holding One Knee, with Sketch of a Foot
Cavaliere-Sur-Mer, August 1909

Reed pen and black ink on white laid paper, laid down on cream wove paper, laid down on ivory wove paper.
Back (I)
Paris and Issy-les-Moulineaux, by April 1908-fall 1909
Standing Female Nude Seen from the Back
Paris, quai Saint-Michel, 1900-01
Charcoal on wove paper
Jeanette (II)
Issy-les-Molineaux, January-March 1910
Plaster, cast in bronze c. 1930

Jeanette (I)
Issy-les-Molineaux, January-March 1910
Clay, cast in bronze c. 1930
Girl with Tulips (Jeanne Vaderin)
Charcoal on paper
Zorah in Yellow
Tangier, first half of April 1912
Oil and pencil on canvas

As he worked on Zorah in Yellow, Matisse had his model assume a crouching pose that would have been familiar to him from studies of Moroccan figures made by the famous 19th-century French artist Eugéne Delacroix during his travels to that country eighty years before.
Fatma, the Mulatto Woman
Tangier, mid-October-early November 1912
Oil on canvas
The Manila Shawl
Issy-les-Molineaux, February-mid April 1911
Oil on canvas
Portrait of Olga Merson
Collioure, July-mid-October 1911
Oil on canvas

This portrait demonstrates Matisse's interest in evoking a sense of growth and "becoming" not through pattern, as in The Manila Shawl, but through increasingly improvisational and visible methods of working. The artist scraped the canvas, exposing revised contours and other earlier changes to the composition that he sometimes covered again with thick patches of new paint. The dark lines swerving across the figure demonstrate the artists's increasing willingness to draw attention to the methods he used to construct a painting.
Jeannette (IV)
Issy-les-Moulineaux, April-September 1910
or February-mid July 1911

Jeannette (III)
Issy-les-Moulineaux, April-September 1910 or
February-mid July 1911
Plaster, cast in Bronze c. 1930
Study for Back ll
Issy-les-Moulineaux c 1913
Ink on lined paper
Back (ll)
Issy-les-Moulineaux,1911(?)-early March or April 1913
Changing Direction
The Blue Window
Issy-les-Moulineaux, June-August 1913
Oil on canvas
Flowers and Ceramic Plate
Issy-les-Moulineaux, September-October 1913
Oil on canvas
Interior with Goldfish
Paris, quai Saint-Michel, January-mid-March 1914
Oil on canvas
Goldfish and Palette
Paris, quai Saint-Michel, late November 1914-spring 1915
Oil on canvas
Portrait of Yvonne Landsberg
Paris, quai Saint-Michel, June-mid-July 1914
Oil on canvas
Head, White and Rose
Paris, quai Saint-Michel, mid-November 1914-early 1915
Oil on canvas
The Italian Woman
Paris, quai Saint-Michel, November-December
OIl on canvas

Even in his most daring and austere paintings of this period, Matisse continued to reuse and repeat themes. This is the first of a series of over 50 paintings and drawings of the Italian model Laurette that he would make over the next year. A studio photograph from fall 1916 shows this canvas with a moore naturalistic representation of Laurette, with a full face, thick arms, a trunklike torso. the artist gradually pared down her form, not through scraping but by adding layers of paint to cover and reshape it. Matisse's softer approach to reworking this image marks a shift towards greater naturalism.
Portrait of Sarah Stein
Paris, quai Saint-Michel, September-October 1916
OIl on canvas

Portrait of Sarah Stein and Matisse's study for the painting (above, right) not only commemorate one of Matisse's important early patrons but also are noteworthy examples of the artist's evolving practice of drawing and painting the same subject. Unlike other such pairs, these works were created by very similar methods. In the study Matisse slid the pattern of features up and down as he expanded and refined their overall forms. When he began the canvas he reenacted this process, starting with the eyes.
Madame Matisse
Paris, quai Saint-Michel, August-October 1915
Graphite on paper
La Desserte (after Jan Davidsz de Heem)
Paris, 1893
Oil on canvas
Still Life (after Jan Davidsz. de Heem's La Desserte)
Issy-les-Moulineaux, August early November 1915
Oil on canvas
In the fall of 1913, after a six-year-hiatus, Matisse also returned to printmaking, and when he relocated to his quai Saint-Michel studio, he purchased a hand etching press with which to make his own prints. Through early 1917 he produced eight lithographs, six drypoints and etchings and at least 69 monotypes, the latter for the first and only time in his career.

Their modest subjects reveal the world around him -- everyday life in the studio, and especially his family and friends. The format, tools, and techniques of printmaking had a great impact on Matisse's practice, and -- in its potential for simplification and color and form --the medium complemented the artist's formal goals.
Matthew Prichard
Paris, quai Saint-Michel, spring 1914
Mlle Landsberg (Large Plate)
Paris, quai Saint-Michel, summer 1914
Etching and drypoint
Greta Prozor
Issy-les-Moulineaux, 1916
Drypoint on paper
Self-portrait (of Matisse)
Paris, quai Saint-Michel, 1914-15
Monotype on chine collé
Portrait of Bourgeat as Vassaux
Paris, quai Saint-Michel, 1914
Josette Gris,Three-Quarters view
Paris, quai Saint-Michel, winter 1915
Josette Gris-Figure in an Armchair
Paris, quai Saint-Michel, winter 1915
Etching on paper
Standing Nude, Arms Folded
Paris, quai Saint Michel, 1915
Monotype on chine collé
Art critic Jason Kaufman
Standing resplendent in brown seersucker suit, Arms Folded
Eva Mudocci
Paris, quai Saint-Michel, or Issy-les-Moulineaux,
September-October 1916
Greta Prozor
Paris, quai Saint-Michel, or Issy-les-Moulineaux,
November-December 1916
Issy-les-Moulineaux, summer-fall 1916
Oil on canvas
Issy-les-Moulineaux, late July-November 1916
Oil on canvas
Bowl of Apples on a Table
Issy-les-Moulineaux, late July-November 1916
Oil on canvas
The Rose Marble Table
Issy-les-Moulineaux, August 1916
Oil on canvas
The Studio, quai Saint-Michel
Paris, quai Saint Michel, March-April 1917
Oil on canvas
Bathers by a River
Issy-les-Moulineaux, 1909-10, 1913, 1916-17
Oil on canvas
One gallery is devoted to a digital presentation illustrating the known states of Bathers by a River (and of Back), exploring the techniques that provided the foundation for the artist's most radical inventions of the period. In this case, X-radiographs reveal various stages of the painting.
The Piano Lesson depicts the living room of Matisse's home in Issy-les-Moulineaux, with his elder son, Pierre, at the piano, the artist's sculpture Decorative Figure (1908), at bottom left, and, at upper right, his painting Woman on a High Stool. Matisse began with a naturalistic drawing, but he eliminated detail as he worked, scraping down areas and rebuilding them in broad fields of color. The painting evokes a specific moment in time--light suddenly turned on in a darkening interior-- by the triangle of shadow on the boy's face and the rhyming green triangle of light falling on the garden. The artist's incising on the window frame and stippling on the left side produce a pitted quality that suggests the eroding effects of light or time, a theme reiterated by the presence of the metronome and burning candle on the piano.
The Piano Lesson
Issy-les-Moulineaux, summer-fall 1916
Oil on canvas
Portrait of Auguste Pellerin (ll)
Paris, quai Saint-Michel, winter-May 1917
oil on canvas

This is the second of two portraits commissioned by Auguste Pellerin, a wealthy Parisian businessman and renowned art collector. The first--a colorful, thinly painted work--was rejected by the sitter as too daring. The artist began again on this larger, more vertical canvas, reworking and revising as he went; the dark ground conceals the changes made to the position, size, and contours of the sitter's head, and incised lines define the shape of Pellerin's black suit and keep his torso from merging completely into the background. Matisse transformed
what had been the more naturalistic portrait into a radically formal, masklike representation. In the end Pellerin acquired both canvases.
Matisse key rings available in the gift shop.
Matisse books in addition to the exhibition catalogue.
Posters, framed or unframed, in various sizes can be ordered online in the museum's gift shop.
Print on demand screen in gift shop.
Matisse mugs in the gift shop. The catalogue accompanying the exhibit is magnificent. It is published by the Art Institute of Chicago and is available through the MoMA stores and online at
Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz; all rights reserved.