Last month I was fortunate enough to be invited by Bonham’s to a wonderful show at the Royal Academy, London: Henri Matisse ‘In the Studio’. Though a small exhibition in the Sackville Galleries it was perfect for the space: a small, intimate exhibition showing both stunning works of art as well as the odds and ends of his studio. Tables, chairs, rugs and carpets form the basis of the show – unremarkable and yet recognisable as icons of Matisse’s art.
The famous Venetian carved chair and coffee table that appear in many of his finest paintings are attractive but unremarkable; yet they are vital since they provided a homely familiarity to the artist which proved inspirational. Matisse was very much a studio painter and due to both ill-health and inertia he rarely moved away from his South of France atelier. Indeed, the wonderful Odalisque paintings, that form the backbone of his 1930s and 1940s output, were never painted outside of his studio despite their North African setting of rug- draped Bedouin homes. There is an irony here since Matisse is considered one of the pioneers of a new art – brave, spontaneous and colourful – which was the antithesis of the studio tradition of 19th Century painting.
It is a small exhibition but beautifully formed and well worth a visit – real care has been taken to show the best possible paintings despite the size of the Sackville Galleries.
In other news: in March 2018 Tate Modern will be showing The EY Exhibition: Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy. This is particularly exciting as it will show Picasso’s finest works from 1932; which was arguably his most important year as Marie-Therese Walter and his wife Olga fought for his attention. Two real masterpieces will be on view: Le Reve and Jeune fille devant un miroir.