Matisse in the Studio

Matisse in the Studio

This has been my favorite illustration of all time, I've even seen this being adapted as a pair of earrings by Mango. It was not until yesterday, that I realized it was by Matisse - I think I owe an apology for that.


Presented by Royal Academy, Matisse in the Studio is the first exhibition to consider how the personal collection of treasured objects of Henri Matisse were both subject matter and inspiration for his work. The show was curated in a way to viewers a glimpse into Matisse's studio, as described by the curator, a very personal, intimate part of his life. It was also interesting the way each part of the exhibition takes you through his source of inspirations, drawn from his collectables. As the curator explains, Matisse seeks to create - 'seeking' was part of his journey to create. The show presents his inspirations and collectables side by side with his vibrant painting, it was pretty magical to view paintings this way, almost feel like we're having a glimpse not only his studio, but his wonderful mind. 


To reveal the working processes by which these pieces were transformed in his oeuvre, around 35 objects are displayed alongside 65 of Matisse’s paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and cut-outs. Matisse’s eclectic collection ranged from a Roman torso, African masks and Chinese porcelain to intricate North African textiles from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The exhibition explores how Matisse continuously returned to his collection throughout his working life and how the objects were reconsidered, depending on the pictorial environment into which they were placed. 

The show takes you through different phases of his creative process - The Object as an Actor shows how Matisse reconceived elements of his collection in different works over various periods throughout his career. The Nude primarily focuses on Matisse’s collection of African sculpture and the ways in which these works led him to radical innovations in portraying the human figure. The Studio as Theatre centres around the Nice interiors from the 1920s, in which Matisse increasingly relied on studio props from the Islamic world, accentuating the importance of pattern and design in his continuing search for an alternative to the western tradition of imitation. The final section, The Language of Signs features Matisse’s late works and the inventive language of simplified signs in his cut-outs. 

Matisse in the Studio offers an intimate insight into Matisse’s studio life and artistic practice, exploring how the collage of patterns and rhythms, which he found in the world of objects, played a pivotal role in the development of his masterful vision of colour and form.