San Antonio Museum or Art

About the Exhibition

"I do not paint things, I paint only the difference between things."

— Henri Matisse


Matisse, Life in Color offers the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore what is perhaps the world’s finest collection of the work of Henri Matisse (French, 1864–1954). Drawn from the renowned Cone Collection at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the exhibition features more than eighty paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, spanning six decades of the career of an artist who continuously reinvented both the subjects and the materials with which he worked.

Matisse altered the course of modern art, liberating form, line, and color from mechanical description to produce a poetic, imaginative way of seeing. Carefully attentive to detail, the artist drew from the immediate pleasures underlying everyday visual experience. Rhythms of line, rhymes of color and spatial relationships, and unexpected vitality in “inanimate” objects all make each work fresh, dynamic, and emotionally resonant.

In 1906, sisters Claribel and Etta Cone of Baltimore met Matisse in Paris and, over the course of forty years, bought works directly from him. The Cones eventually acquired more than 500 works from Matisse, along with major works by Gauguin, Picasso, Cezanne, van Gogh, and other masters of the French avant-garde, filling their homes floor to ceiling. Upon Claribel’s death in 1929, Etta enlisted Matisse himself to shape the Cone collection to represent the finest works of his career, including definitive pieces such as The Yellow Dress, Large Reclining Nude (also known as The Pink Nude), and Purple Robe and Anemones. Etta’s fascination for artistic process drove her to collect Matisse in a variety of media: paintings, sculpture, drawings, and prints. Bequeathed to The Baltimore Museum of Art in 1950, this complex collection of the artist’s best work is the source of Matisse, Life in Color.

Matisse: Life in Color follows the artist’s career, revealing how Matisse responded both to his exterior and interior worlds, and imbued all his works, in all media, with imagination, sensual richness, and stylistic innovation. Whether delighting in the colorful landscape of his beloved South of France, the pose of his model or the visually rich atmosphere of his studio, Matisse continually created some of the most accessible, yet formally challenging, works of the 20th Century. Thanks to the comprehensive riches of the Cone Collection, visitors to the San Antonio Museum of Art this summer can live life, like Matisse, in full, glorious color.

The exhibition is organized and circulated by The Baltimore Museum of Art. It is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and Humanities.

In San Antonio, this exhibition is generously funded by the Robert D. Harper Fund, Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and
Helen C. Kleberg Foundation, GM Foundation, Holt Foundation, Helen & Everett H. Jones Exhibition Fund, G.A.C. Halff Foundation, H-E-B, Rod & Kim Lewis Foundation, Argo Group/ARIS, Lucifer Lighting Company, Gorman Foundation, Claudia Huntington and Marshall Miller, Jr., Daniel J. Sullivan Family Charitable Foundation, Edouard Foundation, Valero Energy Foundation.