Henri Matisse, "La Blouse Roumaine", 1940, Huile sur toile, 92x73cm, Photo, (à gauche). Henri Matisse, "Le Rêve ou la Dormeuse", 1940, Huile sur toile, 81x65cm, Photo (à droite) © Succession H. Matisse - Collection Centre Pompidou / J-C. Planchet / Dist. RMN-GP (à gauche). Succession H. Matisse - Collection particulière (à droite)

From March 7 to June 18, 2012 – Centre Pompidou – Paris

Presenting an outstanding selection of masterworks assembled from the most important public and private collections across the world, this exhibition will examine a distinctive aspect of Matisse’s art: his repeated explorations of the same subject through different treatments – for him a way of exploring art itself. Expressed in variations of framing, draughtsmanship, brushwork and colour, this formal alternation is a recurrent feature of the artist’s work.
The exhibition will feature some sixty paintings, including four large gouache cutouts, and thirty or so drawings, some brought together for the first time since their creation. It covers the whole of Matisse’s artistic career, from 1899 to 1952, the major periods being represented in chronological order, from the pointillism he experimented with in the summer of 1904 (with two versions of Luxe, Calme et Volupté, here juxtaposed in a rare opportunity for direct comparison) to the ambitious paper cutouts of the 1950s (with the famous Nu bleu series of 1952), taking in on the way the renowned Thèmes et variations series of drawings on paper, a kind of conceptual culmination of the procedure.
The exhibition will be particularly illuminating in bringing to bear the tools of historical, critical and technical analysis on the genesis of the works displayed, this examination of pairs and series revealing the line of development of Matisse’s work as a whole, with its ruptures, reversals and breakthroughs. It shows too the degree to which Matisse’s work prompted and nourished the development of modern painting, endlessly posing the questions of representation, of realism, and of the relationships between drawing and colour, surface and volume, interiority and exteriority. Developing new formal solutions, putting into question his own, earlier advances, Matisse was a profound student of form.

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