Matisse and the Methods of Modern Construction

The exhibition includes approximately 120 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints primarily from the years of 1913-17 in order to consider in full the meaning of Matisse’s phrase the “methods of modern construction,” in the first sustained examination devoted to the work of this important period in the time between Henri Matisse’s return from Morocco in 1913 and his departure for Nice.

Art Exhibition previously on at The Museum of Modern Art - MoMA in New York, United States.
From Sunday 18 July 2010 to Monday 11 October 2010

The Blue Window. Issy-les-Moulineaux, summer 1913 image

Published by MOMA on Wednesday 27 May 2009.
Contact the publisher.

In the time between Henri Matisse’s (1869-1954) return from Morocco in 1913 and his departure for Nice in 1917, the artist produced some of the most demanding, experimental, and enigmatic works of his career: paintings that are abstracted and rigorously purged of descriptive detail, geometric and sharply composed, and dominated by the colors black and gray. Works from this period have typically been treated as unrelated to one another, as an aberration within the artist’s development, or as a response to Cubism or World War I.

Matisse and the Methods of Modern Construction moves beyond the surface of these paintings to examine their physical production and the essential context of Matisse’s studio practice. Through this shift of focus, the exhibition reveals deep connections among these works and demonstrates their critical role in the artist’s development at this time. Matisse himself acknowledged near the end of his life the significance of this period when he identified two works – Bathers by a River (1909-10, 1913, 1916-17) and The Moroccans (1915-16) – as among his most “pivotal.” The importance of this moment resides not only in the formal qualities of the paintings but also in the physical nature of the pictures, each bearing the history of its manufacture.

The exhibition is organized by Stephanie D’Alessandro, The Gary C. and Frances Comer Curator of Modern Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, and John Elderfield, Chief Curator Emeritus of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The exhibition will be on view at The Art Institute of Chicago from March 20 through June 6, 2010. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue.