Past Exhibition

The Art Books of Henri Matisse

June 21–September 07, 2014

The Art Books of Henri Matisse will be on view at the San Antonio Museum of Art from June 21 through September 7, 2014. The Art Books of Henri Matisse are on loan from the Bank of America Collection and presents four of twelve illustrated books created over the course of the artist’s lifetime. 

Born in Le Cateau, France, Henri Matisse (1869-1954) created a body of work that comprised paintings, drawings, prints, cutouts, and sculpture, as well as costume and stage set designs over the course of his sixty-year career. This exhibition presents an opportunity to look closely at form, color, and line, as well as to gain a better understanding of the printmaking process. The artist’s techniques are as diverse as the books’ subjects.  

His first illustrated book, Poésies de Stéphane Mallarmé (1932) includes fourteen etchings created to accompany the works of the French poet, a key figure among the Symbolist writers. Matisse complemented Mallarmé’s verses with spare drawings made of fine, sweeping, rarely connected lines, and no attempt at shading, which results in the page being left largely white.  In Pasiphaé, Chant de Minos (Les Crétois) (1944), Matisse retells the story of the wife of King Minos and the Minoan bull through striking linoleum engravings. Jazz (1947) is considered one of the great illustrated books of the twentieth century.  With its boldly colored stencils and captivating images from the circus and dance hall, it signals a new chapter in Matisse’s life in which he created masterpieces from paper cutouts. Paper cutouts were shapes of colored paper carefully cut out by hand and assembled as collages. This technique was perfected in Matisse’s final years when, confined to a wheelchair and suffering from arthritis, he found it difficult to paint. Poèmes de Charles d’Orléans, published in 1950, four years before Matisse’s death, features his fanciful, curvilinear designs and handwritten transcription of the ballads and verses of his favorite works by the Renaissance poet Charles d’Orléans. 

This exhibition is generously underwritten by Bank of America, through the company’s Arts in our Communities® program. Bank of America has transformed its corporate art collection into a unique community resource from which museums and nonprofit galleries may borrow complete exhibitions.  

“Our commitment to the arts in San Antonio is long-standing and rooted in a desire to help enrich the cultural and economic vitality of our community,” said Kenny Wilson, San Antonio market president, Bank of America. “We applaud SAMA’s vision in bringing together both The Art Books of Henri Matisse and Matisse: Life in Color, Masterworks from the Baltimore Museum of Art, and making San Antonio a hotspot for anyone wishing to see one of the art’s greatest masters.”  

The Art Books of Henri Matisse is a complement to the Museum’s major exhibition Matisse: Life in Color, Masterworks from the Baltimore Museum of Art, (June 14 through September 7, 2014). This sweeping exhibition features almost one hundred paintings, sculptures and works on paper spanning six decades of Matisse’s prolific career. Drawn from The Baltimore Museum of Art’s permanent collection, perhaps the finest collection of Matisse’s work in the world, Matisse: Life in Color and The Art Books of Henri Matisse offer a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for San Antonio, and indeed, all of Texas and our region, to share in the beauty and importance of the work of one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century.  

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