Male Speaker 1

Here again, is Katherine Rothkopf of the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Henri Matisse

The Odalisques where the bounty of a happy nostalgia, a lovely vivid dream. And the almost ecstatic enchanted days and nights of the Moroccan climate. One corresponding common vision with some leverage in the color. I felt an irresistible need to express that ecstasy, that divine unconcern in corresponding colored rhythms, rhythms of sunny and lavish figures and colors.

Katherine Rothkopf

The term Odalisque refers to a sort of romantic idea about a harem girl in the Middle East. That’s really where it came from as a way to paint beautiful interiors, starting in the nineteenth century. And I think, for Matisse, he went to Morocco in 1912 or 1913 after having seen his first exhibition of Islamic art in Germany in 1910. And he loved this idea of the sort of romantic exotic life that had been depicted in art for at least a hundred years. When he actually went to Morocco, he found that it was really hard to get into anywhere, where he would see anything. And so he had a hard time finding models, and he ended up doing more landscapes there than he ever intended. The Odalisques in his career provided him with a little bit of fantasy. He had wonderful models in Nice, who could really play with him and I think for him it provided a way to show great beauty and sensuality or color, texture and pattern in his very beautiful gem like paintings.

Male Speaker 1

To hear Katherine Rothkopf discuss the painting Seated Odalisque, left knee bent, ornamental background and checkerboard, select the green button. Press the red button to hear about another painting Standing Odalisque reflected in a mirror. Select the yellow button to learn about the impact of growing up in textile rich Northern France on Matisse and his art.