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Here is exhibition curator, Erika Holmquist-Wall.
Purple robe and Anemones is one of my personal favorite. Its 1937, his model at the time that he is working with Lydia Delectorskaya. I think Matisse really conveys his ability and genius to take great liberties with reality. He believes that taking liberties with reality, allows him to convey the essence of his subject. There is so much in this painting that is, it seems to be fighting against each other, but it all works. This painting is indulgent with color and pattern, the stripes, the wavy lines, the pattern tiles. Everything is much larger than life; he expands everything and just goes for it. He takes a total delight in just combining these colors and patterns that normally you wouldn’t even think of going together.
He intensifies the colors to make them sing and they work even though they are not considered compatible. She is slightly distorted, you can’t tell what she is sitting on, as you can see her legs or her knees: Is she squatting? Is she kneeling? Is she sitting? It’s about – it’s not even about the figure. She’s not even like a flesh and blood person, there is no anatomy here, she’s just a very pleasing decorative shape, as part of the environment. We see the top of the table and we see the sides all at once. It’s just as if something; somebody has taken a giant weight or a hammer and squashed this entire scene into a flat, two-dimensional space. There is no foreground, there is no background, it’s all completely unified into one’s airless space and that’s what really causes you to focus on the color and the pattern.
You are not focused on space anymore. Which is interesting, because you think about his late career and the cutouts and the flat shapes, this is almost the next step before he kind of takes that leap into the pure, clean, simple lines of paper cutouts. I mean, this really shows his sense of freedom in being able to reinvent.
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To learn about Matisse’s return to familiar subjects with this painting press the green button. Select the red button to hear Matisse describe his insatiable impulse to create. Press the yellow button to hear some French music.