Go See – Madrid: Henri Matisse at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza Through September 20, 2009

July 3rd, 2009

Henri Matisse, Odalisca y butaca turca
Henri Matisse, Odalisque au fauteuil turc (Odalisque with a Turkish Chair) (1928), currently showing at Museo Thyseen-Bornemisza.

A collection of works by Henri Matisse is currently showing at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid.  Comprised of 74 paintings, drawings, and sculptures, the exhibition focuses on works of two subjects: odalisques and the sea, as seen through the windows of Nice.  The show runs through September 20, 2009.

Related links:
Matisse: 1917 – 1941 : Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
Henri Matisse
Thyssen-Bornemisza Examines Matisse’s Work During the Central Period of His Career [ArtDaily]

Works featured in the show were completed between 1917 and 1941, a lesser known phase of Matisse’s art.  These years encompass two distinct periods: a gradual acceptance of modern art in the 1920’s, in contrast with an uncertain financial and political climate that marked the 1930’s, beginning with the Great Depression and ending in World War II.  Matisse’s work responds in kind.  Toward the end of the first World War, his work becomes more pictorial, to the extent that the artist moves to Nice (in search of inspiration for images), leaving his family in Paris.  It is his intent to forge a connection with the viewer based on their shared visuals: to that end, color and form work to reintroduce volume and space into a more realistic art, a “painting of intimacy.”  In 1930, however, Matisse is shaken out of his isolation in Nice with a commission from Philadelphia businessman Alfred Barnes.  The project has him producing more decorative art, in line with his earlier work, which – short of a brief hiatus in 1934 during which the artist returns to “painting of intimacy” – Matisse continues to produce until a major surgery in 1941 confines him to his bed.

Henri Matisse, Nu de dos IV
Henri Matisse, Nu de dos IV (Back IV) (1930), at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Henri Matisse, Intérieur au violon
Henri Matisse’s Intérieur au violon (Interior with a Violin) (1917-1918), at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Henri Matisse, Intérieur à la boîte à violon
Henri Matisse’s Intérieur à la boîte à violon (Interior with a Violin Case) (1918-1919), at Museo Thyssen Bornemisza.

Henri Matisse, Poppies
Henri Matisse’s Poppies (1919), at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Henri Matisse, Intérieur à Nice
Henri Matisse’s Intérieur à Nice (Interior in Nice) (1920), at Museo Thyssen Bornemisza.

Born on December 31, 1869, Henri Emile Benoît Matisse lived in the textile town of Le Cateau-Cambrésis, in northern France on the edge of the Belgian border.  In 1887, he relocated to France to study law, passing the bar in 1888.  Soon, though, a bout of appendicitis in 1889 had him discovering painting, for lack of anything better to occupy his time.  In 1891 he began to study with the painter William Adolphe Bouguereau at the Académie Julian, leaving not soon after to work with the more experimental painter Gustave Moreau.  By 1896, Matisse was elected associate member of the Sociéte Nationale, showing paintings at its annual Salon de la Sociéte.  A mostly unsuccessful first solo show in 1904 was nonetheless followed by the beginnings of an artistic community in Collioure. Matisse brought together the artists that would contribute to the Fauve movement, after which he continued to experiment, traveling and attaching himself to different gatherings of avant-garde artists.

Henri Matisse, Portrait de Marguerite endormie
Henri Matisse’s Portrait de Marguerite endormie (Portrait of Marguerite asleep) (1920), at Museo Theyssen Bornemisza.

Henri Matisse, Femmes au canapé ou Le Divan
Henri Matisse’s Femmes au canapé ou Le Divan (Women on a couch or The Divan), at  Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Henri Matisse, Conversation under the Olive Trees
Henri Matisse’s Conversation Under the Olive Trees (1921), at Museo Thyssen- Bornemisza.

Henri Matisse, Le Paravent mauresque
Henri Matisse’s Le Paravent mauresque (The Moorish Screen) (1921), at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

The exhibition at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza is organized into sections, based on form. They are as follows: painting and time; landscapes, balconies, and gardens; intimacy and ornament; background and figure; form: the nude; and finally, une sonore vaine et monotone ligne, the flat, monotonous lines that characterize much of Matisse’s work after 1930.

Henri Matisse, Femme assise, le dos torné vers la fenêtre ouverte
Henri Matisse’s Femme assise, le dos torné vers la fenêtre ouverte (Seated Woman, Back Turned to the Open Window) (c. 1922), at  Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Henri Matisse, Pianist and Checker Players
Henri Matisse’s Pianist and Checker Players (1924), at Museo Thyssen- Bornemisza.

Henri Matisse, Odalisque au tamourin
Henri Matisse’s Odalisque au tamourin (Odalisque with a Tambourine) (1925-26), at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Henri Matisse, Deux Odalisques dont l'une dévetue, fond ornemental et damier
Henri Matisse’s Deux Odalisques dont l’une dévetue, fond ornemental et damier (Two Odalisques, One Undressed, Ornamental Background and Checkerboard) (1928), at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Henri Matisse, Le Chapeau jaune
Henri Matisse’s Le Chapeau jaune (The Yellow Hat) (1929), at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Henri Matisse, La Danse - deuxiéme versión, étde d'ensemble (Study for the Dance Mural Composition, second version)
Henri Matisse’s La Danse – deuxiéme versión, étde d’ensemble (Study for the Dance Mural Composition, second version), (1932-33), at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Henri Matisse, L'Odalisque, Harmonie Blueue
Henri Matisse’s L’Odalisque, Harmonie Blueue (1937), currently showing at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Via Art Knowledge News.

Henri Matisse, La Robe bleue refletée dans la glace
Henri Matisse’s La Robe bleue refletée dans la glace (Small Blue Dress before a Mirror) (1937), at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

Henri Matisse, Nature mote à la dormeuse
Henri Matisse’s Nature mote à la dormeuse (Still Life with Sleeping Woman) (1940), at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza.

– Rivka Fogel