Sunday, February 15, 2015


What, you mean you didn't jet out of beautiful, balmy California for ice-encrusted New York City last week to catch the Matisse show at the MOMA before it left town?

Well, guess what: neither did I.

But that's okay. For all of us art-loving slackers, the New York Times has kindly posted a slideshow of the entire exhibition online!

As a painter, Henri Matisse was renowned for his audacious use of color and vibrant patterns (not to mention his long-standing rivalry with contemporary Pablo Picasso).

Matisse's "The Green Line" (1905), a portrait of his wife, Amelie, her face bisected by a subtle stripe of green, basically ushered in the Fauve movement and helped launch what we now think of as "Modern" art.

But the recent MOMA exhibit was devoted entirely to Matisse's series of marvelous paper cut-outs. These were begun around 1940, when Matisse was entering his 70s. Debilitated by cancer surgery, demoralized by the separation from his wife of over 40 years, and confined to his bed or a chair most of the time, Matisse still found a way to make art.

Armed with scissors and sheets of paper hand-washed by his assistants in bold gouache colors, he produced an extraordinary variety of images devoted to shape, color, and movement.

Just look at these examples! I love the way they bounce around the canvas like living things. There's nothing remotely static about any of these images. They percolate with life.

As art critic Holland Cotter points out in the text that accompanies the NYT slideshow, some of the work became studies for larger pieces. The famed Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence, on the French Riviera, features amazing stained glass windows and vestments designed by Matisse, based on his cut-outs.

It would have been great to see this show in person, to examine the smaller pieces in all their richness, up close, and  be happily dwarfed by the larger pieces! "The Parakeet and the Mermaid" (1952) is roughly 12' by 25'! I want to go swimming in this picture!

But I think this slideshow is the next best thing. Amazing what an intrepid spirit, along with the unquenchable will to create can achieve!

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