Henri Matisse: the new 1930s’ turn

Henri Matisse. Woman with a Veil, 1927 Oil on canvas 61.5 x 50.2 cm. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York. The William S. Paley Collection. © 2022 Succession H. Matisse Copyright digital image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence

 

From March 1 to May 29, 2023, the exhibition “Matisse. Cahiers d'art. Le tournant des années 1930" (“Matisse. Art Notes. The turn of the 1930s”). The exhibition was prepared by several museums: the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris, the Matisse Museum in Nice, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York ( MoMA), New York), as well as the modern edition of the “Notebook on Art” (Cahiers d'art) and the staff of the Matisse Archives.

Cahiers d’art, 1926, no 1, © Editions Cahiers d’Art, Paris 2023, © Succession H. Matisse, Photo Musée d’Orsay, Paris / Sophie Crépy

Cahiers d’art, 1926, no 1, © Editions Cahiers d’Art, Paris 2023, © Succession H. Matisse, Photo Musée d’Orsay, Paris / Sophie Crépy


The great French artist Henri Matisse at the beginning of the XXth century and until the 30s of the XXth century embodied unique experiments in painting, which led to the formation of innovative movements in art - Fauvism and Abstractionism. But by the 30s, a certain lull arose in Matisse’s work, which then developed into a new unique turn of his painting.

Henri Matisse (1869–1954). Corselet sur fond de « Tahiti » 1936. Huile sur toile, 61,3 × 49,1 cm. Oberlin (OH), Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College. © Succession H. Matisse. Photo Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin

Henri Matisse (1869–1954). Corselet sur fond de « Tahiti » 1936. Huile sur toile, 61,3 × 49,1 cm. Oberlin (OH), Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College. © Succession H. Matisse. Photo Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin


The exhibition revisits that decisive decade, which was to set the pace for the years that followed and put Henri Matisse firmly back on the international art scene during the interwar period. His repositioning was carried out emblematically via Christian Zervos’ art magazine, Cahiers d’art, the mouthpiece for an international, multidisciplinary form of modernism, echoing the aesthetic trends of its day, surrealism in particular, and reactivating the Matisse - Picasso duo. It is also through the prism of Cahiers d’art that Matisse’s work during the 1930s will be presented.

The Hall of the exhibition “Matisse. Cahiers d'art. Le tournant des années 1930" at Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris © musée d’Orsay – Sophie Crépy © Sucession H. Matisse. Painting: Henri Matisse (1869–1954). Papeete-Tahiti (Fenêtre à Tahiti ou Tahiti I) Octobre 1935. Huile sur toile, 225 × 172 cm. Nice, musée Matisse Nice, © Succession H. Matisse, Photo Musée Matisse, Nice / François Fernandez

The Hall of the exhibition “Matisse. Cahiers d'art. Le tournant des années 1930" at Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris © musée d’Orsay – Sophie Crépy © Sucession H. Matisse. Painting: Henri Matisse (1869–1954). Papeete-Tahiti (Fenêtre à Tahiti ou Tahiti I) Octobre 1935. Huile sur toile, 225 × 172 cm. Nice, musée Matisse Nice, © Succession H. Matisse, Photo Musée Matisse, Nice / François Fernandez


The exhibition brings together a significant number of works that help visitors identify the major concerns characterizing the period. The approach via Cahiers d’art enables their contextualization.

Henri Matisse (1869–1954). Grand nu couché (Nu rose) 1935. Huile sur toile, 66,4 × 93,3 cm. Baltimore Museum of Art © Succession H. Matisse. Photo Baltimore Museum of Art / Mitro Hood

Henri Matisse (1869–1954). Grand nu couché (Nu rose) 1935. Huile sur toile, 66,4 × 93,3 cm. Baltimore Museum of Art © Succession H. Matisse. Photo Baltimore Museum of Art / Mitro Hood

 

Due to his continuous presence in the magazine, Matisse remained a subject for reflection, well beyond the biographical approach alone, reestablishing his place on an art scene from which he had been gradually excluded during the 1920s: it refocused on the radical pre-1916 approach, helped relaunch the competition with Picasso and also placed Matisse strategically alongside Georges Braque, Juan Miro, Fernand Léger, Vassily Kandinsky, Mondrian, Le Corbusier and Marcel Duchamp.

Henri Matisse (1869–1954). Odalisque à la robe persane jaune anémones, fin janvier 1937. Huile sur toile, 55,2 × 46 cm. Philadelphia Museum of Art © Succession H. Matisse. Photo Philadelphia Museum of Art

Henri Matisse (1869–1954). Odalisque à la robe persane jaune anémones, fin janvier 1937. Huile sur toile, 55,2 × 46 cm. Philadelphia Museum of Art © Succession H. Matisse. Photo Philadelphia Museum of Art


First appearing in the wake of cubism, the magazine soon developed an approach that was not so much critical as aesthetic, universalist and transhistorical, standing against the conservative nationalism of the interwar period. Very different from classical heritage, the key models on which its values were based were non-Western arts and Archaic arts.

Henri Matisse (1869–1954). Vénus à la coquille I, 1930. Bronze, fonte à la cire perdue, patine foncée, 31 × 17,3 × 20 cm, Paris, musée d’Orsay, en dépôt au musée Matisse de Nice, 1978 © Succession H. Matisse. Photo RMN-Grand Palais / Adrien Didierjean

Henri Matisse (1869–1954). Vénus à la coquille I, 1930. Bronze, fonte à la cire perdue, patine foncée, 31 × 17,3 × 20 cm, Paris, musée d’Orsay, en dépôt au musée Matisse de Nice, 1978 © Succession H. Matisse. Photo RMN-Grand Palais / Adrien Didierjean

 

Henri Matisse (1869–1954). Le Chant, 1938. Huile sur toile, 282 × 183 cm. The Lewis Collection © Succession H. Matisse. Photo Museum of Fine Arts, Houston /Will Michels

Henri Matisse (1869–1954). Le Chant, 1938. Huile sur toile, 282 × 183 cm. The Lewis Collection © Succession H. Matisse. Photo Museum of Fine Arts, Houston /Will Michels

 

Henri Matisse (1869–1954). La Danse, harmonie bleue. 1930-1931. Huile sur toile, 33 × 87,8 cm. Musée Matisse Nice © Succession H. Matisse. Photo Musée Matisse, Nice / François Fernandez

Henri Matisse (1869–1954). La Danse, harmonie bleue. 1930-1931. Huile sur toile, 33 × 87,8 cm. Musée Matisse Nice © Succession H. Matisse. Photo Musée Matisse, Nice / François Fernandez

 

Henri Matisse (1869–1954). La Danse, 1930-1931. Papiers gouachés découpés sur papier, 31 × 77,5 cm Musée Matisse Nice © Succession H. Matisse. Photo Musée Matisse, Nice /François Fernandez

Henri Matisse (1869–1954). La Danse, 1930-1931. Papiers gouachés découpés sur papier, 31 × 77,5 cm Musée Matisse Nice © Succession H. Matisse. Photo Musée Matisse, Nice /François Fernandez

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