Henri Matisse art exhibited for first time in Africa

Henri Matisse

“Pasiphae Chant de Minos” (1944), Henri Matisse

Many people worldwide have enjoyed the art of one of the most influential artists of our time, Henri Matisse, but it wasn’t until this year that a dedicated exhibition to the artist was held on one continent in particular.

In a story from the Associated Press, we learn that Africa is hosting its first-ever exhibition devoted to Matisse. The show, “Henri Matisse: Rhythm and Meaning,” is being held in Johannesburg, South Africa until Sept. 17 and features more than 80 works spanning the artist’s career.

The show is significant to the continent aside being the first. According to Federico Freschi, dean of art at the University of Johannesburg and co-curator of the show, Matisse had an affinity for African art.

“He collected many African art objects, particularly masks and figurines from Central and West Africa,” Freschi said. “Matisse also collected a number of African textiles. He had a particular interest in textiles. So he collected many Kuba cloths, for example, and also various North African fabrics, particularly the sort of cotton appliqué work that is well-known in Africa. And those things find their way into his work in various ways.”

One painting in particular features a small African sculpture, which is said to have inspired Picasso to develop cubism after Matisse showed the sculpture to him during a lunch rendezvous.

Since this is the first Matisse exhibition in Africa, the artwork spans a wide range of Matisse’s career to give audiences a better understanding of his style and scope. Matisse is one of the most significant and recognizable names in modern art and worked in numerous mediums, including drawing, painting, sculpture and graphic works. The exhibition borrows works from the Matisse Museum in Le Cateau-Cambresis as well as the Matisse Museum in Nice and private collections.

Henri Matisse. "Icare (Icarus)." 1947. © 2008 Sucession H. Matisse, Paris/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

“Icare (Icarus)” (1947), Henri Matisse. © 2016 Sucession H. Matisse, Paris/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Some of Matisse’s most notable and inspiring works are his gouaches decoupages, or paper cut outs. He was diagnosed with cancer in 1941, and the two subsequent surgeries to treat it left Matisse bound to a wheelchair. His creativity, however, was given new life, and he created masterful works by cutting colored paper by hand and arranging it into compositions, saying he was “painting with scissors.”

Park West proudly offers collectors artwork by Matisse, including linocuts and lithographs. Please contact our gallery consultants for your opportunity to acquire Matisse art.

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