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"Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913–1917" at Museum of Modern Art
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"Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913–1917" at Museum of Modern Art

- In the Galleries: Artists and Photographers

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Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913–1917
July 18–October 11, 2010
At Museum of Modern Art
(Henri Matisse Bio)

www.moma.org
11 West 53rd Street
NY, NY 10019

Paul Jackson, MoMA Press

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 27, 2010

(See a 2003 Review of Matisse and Picasso)

Today was a rainy Monday, and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) was mobbed. Very few New York cultural events exist on Mondays, except for the opera, and MOMA is a widely popular all-day event. I began just as planned at The Modern, MOMA’s gorgeous new restaurant, also accessible at 9 West 53rd Street. Thomas Caron, Manager, was quite warm and attentive, as was the bustling wait staff. I ordered Tomato Gazpacho Soup and Upside Down Tuna Tarte, plus Lillet on ice. After my elegant lunch at The Modern Bar, the atriums were filled with visitors. I immediately headed for Matisse: Radical Invention, an exhibit that originated at the Art Institute of Chicago, after five years of collaboration between the Art Institute and Museum of Modern Art...

This magnetizing exhibit (obviously I’m a huge fan of Matisse, 1869-1954) focuses on five years of his expansive career, 1913-1917, between his return from Morocco and his arrival in Nice. Thus, two major works in this exhibit are Bathers by a River (1909–10, 1913, 1916–17) and The Moroccans (1915–16). Matisse’s works during this period were known for deep black and grey outlines, unique characterization, geometric shapes and sharply drawn edges. The 110-plus paintings, drawings, sculptures, and prints by Matisse are expanded by works of Matisse’s contemporaries, many of whom inspired his work, such as Paul Cezanne’s Three Bathers. Matisse spent many years subsequently, creating his own paintings, decorative panels, and sculptures from plaster casts of “bathers”, such as Bathers by a River and Back I, II, III, and IV. (Assisted by MOMA Press Notes).

Matisse’s time in Spain and Morocco were instrumental in the textile ornamentations and bright colors, and in 1913, after his last trip to Morocco, Matisse employed a more formal structure, evidenced in The Blue Window and Flowers. In 1914, in Paris, Matisse energetically produced twelve paintings with a strong Cubist influence. Interior with Goldfish is one example. Simple geometric forms, often redone multiple times, were apparent. His View of Notre Dame, which Matisse could see from his window, was filled with blue. His portraits emphasized deep lines for female curves, e.g., Portrait of Yvonne Landsberg. Cubism was also ever present, e.g., in Branch of Lilacs. WWI briefly interrupted Matisse’s pace, between 1914-1915, before he remade La Desserte into Still Life after Jan Davidsz. de Heem's "La Desserte". (Assisted by MOMA Press Notes).

The overlapping and scraping of layers of paint was his mode in 1915-1916, and The Italian Woman, with the model Laurette, sparked the creation of over 50 works in one year. Matisse practiced taking a painted likeness and shaping the portrait into an abstract image of that model, over and over. During these five years, Matisse also delved into printmaking, with a collection of lithographs, drypoints, and etchings as a result. Matisse used funds from the sale of these prints to aid the French War effort. The year 1916 was known for major war battles, but Matisse threw himself into his work, with The Moroccans and Bathers by a River, and he infused these masterpieces with dark divisions and visible layers of “re-worked” modifications. (Assisted by MOMA Press Notes).

Also, in 1916, Matisse worked on still lifes, e.g., Bowl of Oranges, with heavy layers of paint and thinly layered shadows, all merging with sharp segments of light. In The Window, he emphasizes the strength of the emerging sunlight. Matisse returned to his Bathers and Back series, plus The Piano Lesson, with Matisse’s son, Pierre at the piano in his own living room. His Bathers by a River now became filled with abstracted figures and sharp geometric lines. (Assisted by MOMA Press Notes). I found the bare outlines of a chair in The Window, the fanciful cubist shapes and black-on-pink in Moroccans, and the bright blues and greens of interior merging with landscape views in Window, among many memorable images, to rivet the eye and transport the imagination. Check out www.moma.org to plan your visit, and be sure to stop for lunch The Modern.



MOMA Busy Lobby
on a Rainy Monday
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


MOMA Atrium
on a Rainy Monday
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


Wait Staff at The Modern
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


Tomato Gazpacho Soup
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


Upside Down Tuna Tarte
with Fennel, Japanese Cucumber, Aioli
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


Thomas Caron, Manager,
The Modern
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


MOMA Atrium
on a Rainy Monday
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


Entrance to Matisse:
Radical Invention 1913-1917
Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954)
"Interior with Goldfish". 1914
Oil on canvas
Musée National d'Art Moderne/
Centre de Création Industrielle,
Centre Pompidou, Paris.
Bequest, Baroness Eva Gourgaud, 1965
Courtesy of Museum of Modern Art


Henri Matisse painting
"Bathers by a River", May 13, 1913.
Photograph by Alvin Langdon Coburn.
Archives, Int. Museum of Photography
at George Eastman House, Rochester, NY
Courtesy of Museum of Modern Art


Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954).
"The Window", 1916.
Oil on canvas
The Detroit Institute of Arts,
City of Detroit Purchase.
© 2010 Succession H. Matisse/
Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
Courtesy of Museum of Modern Art


Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954).
"Portrait of Yvonne Landsberg", 1914.
Oil on canvas
Philadelphia Museum of Art,
Louise & Walter Arensberg Collection, 1950.
© 2010 Succession H. Matisse/
Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
Courtesy of Museum of Modern Art


Henri Matisse.
"The Moroccans".
Issy-les-Moulineaux, late 1915, fall 1916.
Oil on canvas
The Museum of Modern Art, NY
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel A. Marx
© 2010 Succession H. Matisse/
Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
Courtesy of Museum of Modern Art


Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954)
"The Blue Window".
Issy-les-Moulineaux, summer 1913
Oil on canvas
The Museum of Modern Art, NY
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund
© 2010 Succession H. Matisse/
Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY
Courtesy of Museum of Modern Art



For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net