...& so the innovative Matisse arrives at the Tate Modern for this much anticipated review of the artist's final works. It is with a hint of sadness and celebration that this show is greeted. Fore the artist is presented in such glorious fashion, though focused on the pieces, which ultimately lead us to his death. This is inspiring as opposed to sobering when reflecting upon what the artist managed to achieve during these final spirited years.
Matisse resided in an industrial town in Northern France far removed from the created hub of the Capital. A curious appetite for progressive art brought him to Paris when he was 21 years introducing him to such visuals as Paul Cezanne & Vincent van Gogh before discovering the work of Georges Seurat & Paul Signac. The pointilist technique they adopted breathed endless possibilities into his work, which provoked a curious perception of what art actually was. Matisse embraced this avant-garde approach, which eventually led him to become one of the leaders of the infamous Fauvist movement – 'Wild Beasts'.
From 1905 Matisse began introducing non-representational colour as well as bold, vivid brushstrokes into his work alongside artist-friend André Derain. From that moment Fauvism was born. Matisse became known for capturing a mood as opposed to realistic portraits of his environment. This was achieved by the vivid colour palette he used combined with simplifying his subjects form to its core.
The Fauvist movement was short-lived with many artists moving on to explore Cubism under the leadership of Picasso. Matisse himself ventured into the movement briefly, but as this gained popularity he began to distance himself preferring to focus on other forms.
As he entered later life Matisse was affected by World War II as well as suffering ill health. In 1939 France declared war & were swiftly invaded, defeated & occupied by Germany. Living in a war zone with little control over external forces combined with his debilitated health Matisse still managed to continue his practice from a bed in his studio. Now, increasingly unable to paint, Matisse began to use scissors to sculpt shapes from brightly coloured fabrics, which he pieced together to form an overall composition. Crafted with the inventiveness of yet another new approach to art by the artist breathed a new lease of life into his work, which is clear to see from the works on display at the Tate.
With the added time pressure that eventual death imposed since being granted 3 years to live by his Doctor, Matisse's studio became a frenzied, exciting & chaotic environment for his assistants to serve. His assistants at the time described Matisse as enlivened, possessing an abundance of creative ambitious energy, although very demanding of his assistants.
The curation of this exhibition communicates the final chapter of Matisse's studio where so much appeared in a rapid space of time. You can almost feel the energy from the studio transferred to the gallery space assisted by the plethora of colour, which cannot fail to stimulate. An understanding of the personal challenges he had to overcome in order to bring these creations to life with his will, passion & desire leads you to appreciate this power of creation.
This touring exhibition markd the 60th anniversary of Matisse's death with London the first to host the show, before the exhibition traveled to New York to be displayed at the Museum of Modern Art. The show ended at Tate Modern on 7 September 2014 priced £18.00
Creole Dancer’, 1950
Large Composition with Masks, 1953
The Horse, the Rider and the Clown, 1947
The Snail, 1953
The Clown’, 1943