Major Matisse exhibition coming to Philadelphia

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Major Matisse exhibition coming to Philadelphia
Henri Matisse "Woman in Blue" 1937. 36 1/2 x 29 inches (92.7 x 73.7 cm). Oil on canvas. Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Mrs. John Wintersteen, 1956-23-1. © 2022 Succession H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

by Sarah Bahr

NEW YORK, NY.- In 1930, Albert Barnes, the art collector and founder of the Barnes Foundation, did something a bit audacious: He asked Henri Matisse, who was visiting the United States as a juror for the Carnegie International exhibition in Pittsburgh, to create an enormous painting. Matisse, then 60, had not completed any paintings during the previous year.

Lucky for Barnes — and, it turns out, for Matisse.

The result, a 45-foot-long, three-part representation of dancing figures that Matisse completed in France, called “The Dance” (1932-33), reinvigorated his career, leading him to return to easel painting with new techniques, including the use of pre-colored papers that he cut to plan his compositions.

The innovative decade that followed is the subject of a new exhibition, “Matisse in the 1930s,” which is slated to open in October at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The show, believed to be the first major exhibition to focus on this decade of the painter’s life, is a collaboration with the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris and the Musée Matisse Nice. It will include more than 100 drawings, paintings, prints and sculptures and feature work from public and private collections in the United States and Europe. It will also include archival photos and documentary films.

“The Barnes mural came at the right time because he had been going through a fallow period,” said Matthew Affron, the curator of modern art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “It jump-started him back in a new direction.”

Highlights include “Large Reclining Nude” (1935); a nearly-11-foot ink drawing at the scale of the central figure of the Barnes mural (1930-31); and “Woman in Blue” (1937), a portrait of Matisse’s principal model, Lydia Delectorskaya, wearing a ruffled silk bodice and matching skirt that she sewed at his request. (The actual skirt will be displayed, too.) Also on view will be “Le Chant” (1938), a 10-foot-tall decorative painting with a cutout at the bottom, which once sat above the fireplace in Nelson Rockefeller’s Manhattan penthouse.

The exhibition, which Affron said had been in the works for about five years, will be on display in Philadelphia from Oct. 19 through Jan. 29, 2023. Then it will travel to the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris from Feb. 27 through May 29, 2023, followed by a stop at the Musée Matisse Nice from June 23 through Sep. 24, 2023.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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