Matisse Exhibit Comes to OKC

Splurge OKC, July 1st, 2016

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The Father of Modernism Oklahoma City Museum of Art To Showcase Work of Matisse in Exclusive Exhibition By Heide Brandes

Henri Emile Benoît Matisse was born on Dec. 31, 1869, in a tiny weaver's cottage on the rue du Chêne Arnaud in the textile town of Le Cateau-Cambrésis .

This humble beginning would herald the arrival of what would become one of the most respected artists of the 20th century and one considered to be the father of modernism.

Matisse, who threw himself into painting while convalescing from an illness as a child, said, “From the moment I held the box of colors in my hands, I knew this was my life. I threw myself into it like a beast that plunges towards the thing it loves.”

Now, Oklahoman can witness the passion of the “beast that plunges towards the thing it loves” during a special Oklahoma City Museum of Art exclusive exhibition of “Matisse in His Time: Masterworks of Modernism from the Centre Pompidou, Paris” through Sept. 18.

The OKCMOA, located at 415 Couch Drive in Oklahoma City, will be the exclusive North American venue to host the exhibition, which includes more than 100 works of art, including 50 paintings, sculptures and works on paper by Henri Matisse, as well as masterworks by Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Georges Braque, André Derain, Fernand Léger and Amadeo Modigliani.


“This exhibition will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we are honored to host it in Oklahoma City,” said OKCMOA President and CEO E. Michael Whittington. “Already, we’ve received requests for tickets from across the U.S. and we anticipate record-breaking crowds to see this stunning exhibition of modern masterworks.”

The exhibition is organized from the collection of the Centre Pompidou, one of the world’s leading modern and contemporary art institutions. Henri Matisse is one of the most important artists of the 20th century, and this exhibition showcases important works from each phase of Matisse’s career, demonstrating his significance to many key art movements of the 20th century.

“The exhibition features over a hundred works that span the life and career of Henri Matisse,” said Michael Anderson, director of curatorial affairs and coordinating curator for the Matisse exhibit at OKCMOA.

“Really what this exhibition is doing is telling the story of modern art through Matisse. Matisse at the turn of the century who assimilated all the influences of the post-impressionist painters like Van Gogh and those big famous names and created what is known as modern art in the 20th century.”

Matisse’s mother was the first to encourage the budding artist to break rules when discovering art. In 1891, Matisse went to Paris to study art at the Académie Julian and became a student of William-Adolphe Bouguereau.

The perfectionist style of teaching did not mesh with Matisse’s wild style and passion. He left the Academie Julian to work with Gustave Moreau.

Because Moreau despised the "art du salon," Matisse was trained and deemed an "outcast" of the art world, though he was finally accepted into the École des Beaux-Arts.

In the 1910s and 1920s, Matisse’s work delighted viewers with signature elements of saturated colors, limited detail and strong outlines. In his later years, Matisse drew book illustrations for a series of limited edition poetry and received major commissions. However, a surgery in 1941 left him bedridden, and his work became even more vibrant and experimental.

“One interesting thing about this exhibition is by telling the story of modern art, the way you can do that through Matisse is that he was somebody that went movement by movement,” Anderson said. “He created fauvism, he participated in cubism and surrealism. Matisse was at the center of all of it.”

Matisse died Nov. 3, 1954 and is still regarded as one of the most innovative and influential artists of the 20th Century.

“This exhibition focuses on him, and there’s more than 50 works by Matisse alone, most from the Centre Pompidou, but also another piece from The Matisse Museum in France, but then we also have about 50 works from other artists as well,” said Anderson.

“Of those, there are seven from Pablo Picasso, who was Matisse’s chief rival. These are works by some really big name artists – as big as they come, truly.”

In addition to the paintings, the exhibition will also showcase Matisse’s paper cutout work from the 1940s.

“By the 40s, he starting working in the paper cutout. He illustrated the book ‘Jazz,” and they became known as the Jazz Series, and we have all 20 of those prints for the exhibition as well,” said Anderson.

Tickets are on sale at Demand is expected to be high, so visitors are encouraged to buy tickets early to secure their preferred day and time.

Oklahoma City-based Inasmuch Foundation provided a grant for the exhibition in honor of its founder Edith Kinney Gaylord.

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