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Matisse: In Search of True Painting

Matisse: In Search of True Painting

About the Exhibition

Henri Matisse (1869–1954) was one of the most acclaimed artists working in France during the first half of the twentieth century. The critic Clement Greenberg, writing in The Nation in 1949, called him a "self-assured master who can no more help painting well than breathing." Unbeknownst to many, painting had rarely come easily to Matisse. Throughout his career, he questioned, repainted, and reevaluated his work. He used his completed canvases as tools, repeating compositions in order to compare effects, gauge his progress, and, as he put it, "push further and deeper into true painting." While this manner of working with pairs, trios, and series is certainly not unique to Matisse, his need to progress methodically from one painting to the next is striking. Matisse: In Search of True Painting presents this particular aspect of Matisse's painting process by showcasing forty-nine vibrantly colored canvases. For Matisse, the process of creation was not simply a means to an end but a dimension of his art that was as important as the finished canvas.

Read more about the exhibition.


Accompanied by a catalogue and an Audio Guide


The exhibition is made possible in part by Vacheron Constantin.
Additional support is provided by the Jane and Robert Carroll Fund and the Diane W. and James E. Burke Fund.
The exhibition is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in collaboration with the Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, and the Centre Pompidou, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris.
The exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.
The catalogue is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Image above: Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954). Le Luxe II, 1907–8. Distemper on canvas; 82 1/2 x 54 3/8 in. Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, J. Rump Collection. Image at right: Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954). Young Sailor II, 1906. Oil on canvas; 39 7/8 x 32 5/8 in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998 (1999.363.41). © 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Reproduction, including downloading of ARS works, is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.