September 19, 2007
The BMA Presents Matisse: Painter as Sculptor
Baltimore is the only East Coast venue for this celebrated exhibition co-organized by The Baltimore Museum of Art, Dallas Museum of Art, and Nasher Sculpture Center
BALTIMORE, MD (September 19, 2007) —The Baltimore Museum of Art is the last stop on the national tour for Matisse: Painter as Sculptor, the first major exhibition of Henri Matisse’s sculpture in the U.S. in nearly 40 years. On view October 28, 2007 – February 3, 2008, this widely acclaimed exhibition brings together more than 160 sculptures, paintings, and drawings from museums and private collections around the world to reveal for the first time how the insights Matisse gained in one medium led to innovations in another.sculptural achievements are also shown in the context of works by his contemporaries and through multimedia presentations that illustrate the production of sculpture and the groundbreaking technology used to uncover the creative process of one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.
Co-organized by The Baltimore Museum of Art, Dallas Museum of Art (DMA), and Nasher Sculpture Center, Matisse: Painter as Sculptor is a special ticketed event with a complimentary audio tour. A special opening day celebration will be held on Sunday, October 28—with free admission for all on that day only—made possible by Bank of America, the exclusive national sponsor for the exhibition.
“This landmark exhibition, which draws on the BMA’s world-renowned collection of works by Matisse, is a testimony to the Museum’s dedication to shedding new light on this great artist,” said BMA Director Doreen Bolger. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Matisse’s genius represented in bronze, on canvas, and on paper with works from around the world.”
The exhibition is organized chronologically around nearly 50 of Matisse’s great sculptural masterworks created from 1899 to 1950. Early works are presented in an atelier-like setting with large-scale reproductions of archival photographs of Matisse working in his studio. The dynamic relationship between Matisse’s two- and three-dimensional objects is revealed as early as 1900 with the Rodin-inspired sculpture The Serf and dramatic Male Model painting. For these works, Matisse hired a well-known Italian model who posed for some of Rodin’s most famous sculptures, and worked obsessively on the sculpture for at least three years. The artist’s
fascination with the female figure in bronze begins with Madeleine I and II (1901–03), two variations bestowed with undulating curves and rippling surfaces that attract light. Matisse also incorporated representations of his own sculptures within paintings, including the celebrated Still Life with Geranium (1906) and Still Life with Plaster Figure (1906). The vibrant Oil Sketch for the Joy of Life (1905–06) shows an idyllic setting with women in many of the reclining and standing poses that Matisse modeled and painted throughout his career.
The second half of the exhibition highlights the artist’s work in series such as the five portrait busts of Jeannette (1910–1914), three busts of Henriette (1925–29), and four monumental bronze reliefs known as The Backs (1909–30), Matisse’s brilliant exploration of the abstraction of the human form. The artist’s iconic reclining nudes are represented in bronze with the Large Seated Nude (1922–29) and Reclining Nude I, II, and III (1907–29), and on canvas with Blue Nude: Memory of Biskra (1907), Odalisque with a Tambourine (1925–26), and Large Reclining Nude/The Pink Nude (1935). The exhibition concludes with a selection of cut-outs such as Blue Nude I (1952), Matisse’s final treatment of the reclining nude theme, that demonstrate how he transformed his sculptural ideas into brilliantly colored paper on canvas. All of the works in the exhibition are complemented by rarely shown drawings by Matisse that explore similar themes and a selection of works by Constantin Brancusi, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Alberto Giacometti, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, and other artists are included to provide a vivid context for Matisse’s achievements.
New Research on Matisse
The first comprehensive technical examination of Matisse’s sculpture was conducted in preparation for the exhibition. With the support of a Samuel Kress Curatorial Fellowship for Research in Conservation and the History of Art and The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation, BMA Associate Curator of European Painting & Sculpture Dr. Oliver Shell and BMA Objects Conservator Ann Boulton compared the BMA’s bronze casts with other casts by Matisse in the collections of the Musée du Louvre, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, and the Musées Matisse in Nice and Cateau-Cambresis in France and the Museum of Modern Art, NY; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Philadelphia Museum of Art in the U.S. The technical study involving 3-D laser scans, base tracing, X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, X-radiography, and ICPMS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry) analysis led to the discovery that bronze casts of the same edition had considerable differences in their methods of construction, patination, finishing, and size. Another major revelation was that Matisse made piece molds from the wet clay original after casting so that he could develop his models further to produce sculptures in series. He used this process for Madeleine I and II (1901–03) and The Backs I-IV (1909–30). Differences in patina between sand-cast works and those made in lost wax were also identified, contributing to the knowledge of how Matisse created various casts. This project reflects the active research on sculpture techniques and conservation at The Baltimore Museum of Art.
The exhibition includes two multimedia presentations that demonstrate how to look at sculpture and show how the three-dimensional laser technology was used to compare multiple casts of the same work and reveal differences unseen by the human eye. The laser scanning was conducted by Direct Dimensions, Inc. of Owings Mills, Maryland, and the multimedia displays were created by the Imaging Research Center of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, which previously worked with the BMA to create the interactive virtual tour of the Cone Sisters’ apartments, on view in the Cone Wing at the Museum.
Hands-On Matisse Activity Center
The exhibition concludes with a special activity center that encourages visitors to follow Matisse’s advice to his students and “empathize with the models’ postures.” Visitors are invited to take the pose of one of Matisse’s sculptures while others trace their darkened silhouettes on the wall. A table with armatures and plasticine offers opportunities for visitors to create a model that recalls one of Matisse’s sculptures in the exhibition. A third activity focuses on the tactile nature of sculpture by presenting a variety of concealed portrait heads made by Baltimore sculptor Richard Cleaver that visitors can touch and identify.
In conjunction with the exhibition, a fully illustrated catalogue co-produced with Yale University Press presents new scholarship through a series of essays that offer insights into Matisse’s sculptural work. Dr. Steven Nash discusses Matisse’s patronage and the reception of his sculpture in America; Dr. Dorothy Kosinski probes the art historical context of Matisse’s sculpture in dialogue with tradition and the avant-garde; Jay Fisher explores the use of drawing in the evolution of Matisse’s sculptural ideas, and Dr. Oliver Shell examines the artist’s ideas about the viewing of his sculpture, as revealed by his deliberate placement of sculpture in exhibitions. Dr. Shell and BMA Objects Conservator Ann Boulton also summarize technical studies undertaken during a joint fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art. The catalogue is available only in hardback at The BMA Shop for $60.
Exhibition Organization and Tour
Matisse: Painter as Sculptor is co-organized by The Baltimore Museum of Art, Dallas Museum of Art, and the Nasher Sculpture Center. The exhibition tour opened in Dallas at both the DMA and the Nasher (January 21–April 29, 2007), and is presented at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (June 9–September 16, 2007) and The Baltimore Museum of Art (October 28, 2007–February 3, 2008).
The exhibition is curated by Jay Fisher, BMA Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs and Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings & Photographs; Dr. Dorothy Kosinski, Senior Curator of Painting and Sculpture and The Barbara Thomas Lemmon Curator of European Art at the Dallas Museum of Art; and Dr. Steven Nash, (former) Director of the Nasher Sculpture Center; with the assistance of Dr. Oliver Shell, BMA Associate Curator of European Painting & Sculpture; Dr. Heather MacDonald, The Lillian and James H. Clark Assistant Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the Dallas Museum of Art; and Jed Morse, Assistant Curator at the Nasher Sculpture Center.
The national tour of Matisse: Painter as Sculptor is presented by Bank of America, the exhibition’s exclusive corporate partner. Presentation in Baltimore is generously sponsored by The Rouse Company Foundation and Jeanette C. and Stanley H. Kimmel.
The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. Additional organizing support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Richard C. von Hess Foundation, and The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation.
About the Baltimore Museum of Art
Founded in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) inspires people of all ages and backgrounds through exhibitions, programs, and collections that tell an expansive story of art—challenging long-held narratives and embracing new voices. Our outstanding collection of more than 97,000 objects spans many eras and cultures and includes the world’s largest public holding of works by Henri Matisse; one of the nation’s finest collections of prints, drawings, and photographs; and a rapidly growing number of works by contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds. The museum is also distinguished by a neoclassical building designed by American architect John Russell Pope and two beautifully landscaped gardens featuring an array of modern and contemporary sculpture. The BMA is located three miles north of the Inner Harbor, adjacent to the main campus of Johns Hopkins University, and has a community branch at Lexington Market. General admission is free so that everyone can enjoy the power of art.