JazzPages106-107 0007

Published on July 20th, 2016 | by Theo Nel


Top 5 works of Matisse mastery

South Africans are now able to experience 50 years of unbridled creativity at the Henri Matisse | Rhythm and Meaning exhibition running at the Standard Bank Gallery until September 17. The exhibition features paintings, drawings, sculptures, paper cut-outs and prints. The centrepiece of the exhibition is the full suite of 20 impressions for the prints in the artist’s book Jazz.

 Patrice Deparpe, Director of the Musée départemental Matisse, Le Cateau-Cambrésis, has highlighted five of Matisse’s most important works on exhibition in Johannesburg during this historic art event. He is co-curator of the exhibition along with Federico Freschi, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Johannesburg.

The works Deparpe has selected cover the main periods in Matisse’s artistic life, from his early sculptures and his Fauvist oil paintings inspired by African art to his seminal Jazz stencil prints and paper cut-outs.

1) Le Serf (I’Esclave) (The Serf) 1900 - 1903 

Bronze sculpture

One of Matisse’s earliest sculptures, inspired by Rodin, on the topic of freedom. The sculpture’s arms were broken off in an accident, but Matisse believed that, rather than damaging the piece, the calamity had actually rendered it more effective. From that day on, he sought to remove the superfluous from his works.


2) Marguerite au chapeau de cuir (Marguerite in a Leather Hat) 1914

Oil on canvas, 82cm x 65cm

This portrait of Matisse’s daughter was inspired by Fang masks from Gabon. The work exemplifies how important African art was for Matisse in the early 20th century – in fact, it was he who introduced Picasso to African art, which also went on to feature strongly in the latter’s work. During his travels in North Africa, Matisse collected objects and textiles and went on to make important works influenced by Africa.


3) Icare (Icarus), Reprint from the first plate of the book Jazz. 1947

Icare (Icarus) 1947. Eighth plate of the book Jazz. Gouache stencil print on Arches paper 42 x 65cm.  Musée départemental Matisse, Le Cateau-Cambrésis

Icare (Icarus) 1947. Eighth plate of the book Jazz. Gouache stencil print on Arches paper 42 x 65cm.  Musée départemental Matisse, Le Cateau-Cambrésis. ©Succession H. Matisse

Gouache stencil print on Arches paper42cm x 65 cm

Matisse’s 1947 artist’s book Jazz forms the heart of the exhibition, symbolising as it does Europe’s newly regained freedom after World War II. It is also proof of the importance of music for Matisse. The Jazz prints represent the freedom of making music, with the jazz musicians improvising and innovating like Matisse did in creating the paper cut-outs that make up the series.


4) Femme à la gandoura bleue (Woman with a Blue Gandurah). 1951

Femme à la gandoura bleue (Woman with a Blue Gandurah). 1951. 81 x 65cm  Musée départemental Matisse, Le Cateau-Cambrésis

Femme à la gandoura bleue (Woman with a Blue Gandurah). 1951. 81 x 65cm
Musée départemental Matisse, Le Cateau-Cambrésis. © Succession H. Matisse

Oil on canvas, 81cm x 65cm

This, the last painting done by Matisse, shows a woman wearing a gandurah, a long, loose-flowing gown from North African – further proof of the importance of Africa’s influence on Matisse’s work. The painting will be presented with the gandurah from Matisse’s collection featured in the painting.


5) Maquette du vitrail Vigne (Maquette for Stained Glass Window, Vine) 1953

Maquette du vitrail Vigne (Maquette for the Stained-glass Window at Vigne) 1953 Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, and charcoal sketch 290 x 115cm Musée départemental Matisse, Le Cateau-Cambrésis

Maquette du vitrail Vigne (Maquette for the Stained-glass Window at Vigne) 1953
Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, and charcoal sketch 290 x 115cm
Musée départemental Matisse, Le Cateau-Cambrésis. © Succession H. Matisse

Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, and charcoal sketch, 290cm x 115cm

The paper cut-out Vigne is a design for a stained-glass window that was installed in the stairwell of the home of Matisse’s son Pierre in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. It is a delicate work that travels very rarely. It has been included in the exhibition to celebrate a passion that France and South Africa share: the vine and wine.


Henri Matisse|Rhythm and Meaning is presented by Standard Bank in partnership with the Embassy of France in South Africa and the French Institute of South Africa, and with the support of the Musée départemental Matisse du Cateau-Cambrésis, Air France, Total and Air Liquide.

Free public walkabouts hosted by art educator Wilhelm van Rensburg, will take place from 13 :00 to 14:00 on the following days:  13, 15, 20, 22 and 29 July; 5, 10, 12, 17, 19, 24, 26 and 31 August; and 1, 7, 9, 14 and 16 September.

The Standard Bank Gallery – located on the corner of Simmonds and Frederick streets in central Johannesburg – offers free, safe undercover parking. The gallery hours will be extended for the duration of the Henri Matisse|Rhythm and Meaning exhibition: Mondays to Fridays from 8am to 4.30pm, and Saturdays from 9am to 4pm.  Admission to the exhibition is free.

Standard Bank Art Online Links:

Website: www.standardbank.com/matisse

Twitter: @StandardbankArt     #MatisseinSA

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/StandardBankArts/

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