There’s much more to Matisse than “The Dance” and “Blue Nude.” If you think you know him, think again.
One of the world’s boldest painters, Henri Matisse was a “wild beast” of an artist known for his vividly expressive coloration and fluid lines and shapes.
But as he reached his 60s, Matisse had come to a stage in his half-century career when his painting had lost its innovation. He had moved from Paris to the suburb of Nice, his health and marriage were troubled, and critics were saying he had lost his touch.
It was around that time, in the 1930s and ’40s, that Matisse’s art discovered new vigor in new forms, a departure from his signature paintings.
In a series of personally curated books, Matisse captured the intersections of visual art, poetry, music and dance in collections of multilayered artworks.
Eighty-one works from four of those books will be on display at the Columbia Museum of Art from Friday, Sept. 15, to Monday, Jan. 15, in the new exhibit “Henri Matisse: Jazz & Poetry on Paper.”
“If you love Matisse, this is a side of him you may not have been able to take in before,” exhibit curator Catherine Walworth said. “This was like a fabulous new career for him, this reinvigorated Matisse with creative, innovative tendencies after stalling out with painting.”
If you love Matisse, this is a side of him you may not have been able to take in before.
Catherine Walworth, exhibit curator
The four portfolios – “Pasiphae, Chant de Minos,” “Poemes de Charles D’Orleans,” “Poesies de Stephane Mallarme,” and, one of Matisse’s most famous works, “Jazz” – bring to life poetry and myth and personal reflection by pairing Matisse’s fanciful prints with written texts, both hand-scrawled and typed.
“Jazz” presents a circus-inspired collection of pochoir prints featuring wildly vibrant colors and abstract figures.
In the works of “Pasiphae,” you’ll see a collection of white-on-black linocuts inspired by the classical Greek myth of Pasiphae and the Minotaur.
You’ll see crayon-inspired lithograph images and writings of Charles D’Orleans’ poetry.
Etchings of various faces and figures accompany the poetry of Stephane Mallarme, whom Matisse admired because Mallarme’s style “was to not just describe the thing. He thought that if you described it, you undid it,” Walworth said. “He wanted to evoke what was behind the thing.
“That’s very much what Matisse did. He didn’t want to paint the realistic thing; he wanted to paint the effect on him.”
Matisse worked hard to convey simplicity in these prints, Walworth said. For instance, a single wiggling, white line against a black background forms a screaming face as part of the “Pasiphae” collection.
“That’s the beauty of Matisse,” Walworth said.
The books are a world-traveling exhibit from the Bank of America art collection based in Charlotte.
The Columbia’s museum’s exhibit will incorporate music, other artworks from the museum’s permanent collection and videos of dance performances to complement Matisse’s works.
“Part of the joy of modernism, for me, is all these various arts are responding to each other and playing with each other,” Walworth said. “I want (the exhibit) to be a very – and I hate this word – a sensual experience. I want people to leave feeling like they were wrapped in an experience. … I’m hoping people almost feel enveloped in the arts.”
Check out these other fall exhibits
McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina
“Fall into Sports,” on display through Saturday, Dec. 16, showcases materials from USC’s 13 fall sports programs. It also includes the 1982 Cocky mascot costume. He’s a little less, er, friendly, than today’s Cocky, the museum’s Amanda Belue said.
“Our nickname for him around here is ‘Creepy Cocky,’ ” she said. “But everybody loves him.”
“Nostalgia for Nature,” on display through Saturday, June 2, shows art glass and ceramic works from McKissick’s personal collection. You might recognize some of the artists: Tiffany Studios, Emile Gallé and Rookwood Pottery, among others.
“WTF (What They Found),” on display Saturday, Sept. 9, through Saturday, Dec. 16, is composed of more than 40 random objects found on USC’s campus over the years. They range from a hatchet found inside the walls of Rutledge Chapel to artifacts found in archaeological digs on campus.
“We want people to look at this exhibit and go … ‘How did that get there?’ ” Belue said. “And then ask, ‘What am I leaving behind?’ ”
“Well Suited,” showing through Saturday, July 21, includes flamboyant Mardi Gras Indian costumes designed by North Carolina-native Alonzo V. Wilson for HBO’s award-winning series “Treme.”
S.C. State Museum
“Eclipsing 50: The State Art Collection 1967-2017” highlights artwork collected between 1967 and 2017 by the South Carolina Arts Commission as a part of the organization’s 50th anniversary celebration. It features more than 80 pieces by artists including Jasper Johns, Mary Jackson and James Busby. The exhibit opens Friday, Sept. 15.