Friday, March 19, 2010

Matisse: Radical Invention

The Matisse Exhibition, at The Art Institute of Chicago, will open to the public this Saturday. The exhibition previewed today for members. To be clear, it’s a wonderful exhibition.

The show titled “Matisse: Radical Invention”, covers the work he created during the five years between 1913 and 1917. From the Institute’s web site, the exhibition “…examines what is without question the most innovative, momentous, and yet little-studied time in the artist’s long career. Nearly 120 of his most ambitious and experimental paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints from the period are on view.”

It continues…
“Rigorously purged of descriptive detail and sharply composed, the works Matisse produced between late 1913 and 1917 are among his most demanding, experimental, and enigmatic. While these works have typically been seen as unrelated responses to the influences of Cubism and World War I, this exhibition illustrates the deep connections between them and their critical role in an ambitious, cohesive project of developing what Matisse called “the methods of modern construction”—a process in which the act of creation itself was the main focus.

Unlike his earlier art, which was characterized by rich color and arabesque line, these new paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings are often rigorously abstracted, heavily reworked, and dominated by black and gray. Canvases typically show a multitude of paint layers and a nearly sculptural approach to scraping and incising; sculptures display a remarkable emphasis on geometry and structure; prints reflect and reinform the incising and scraping that the artist devised for his paintings; and drawings are frequently composed of a network of erasures and stumping, and elegant, spare line.”

Truly a beautiful exhibition, the work is presented in a series of open and very manageable rooms. Stephanie D’Alessandro, Gary C. and Frances Comer, Curator of Modern Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, and John Elderfield, Chief Curator Emeritus of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, curated the show.

Take the time to see this exhibition. It’s quite amazing. The show continues through June 20th.

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