Inspiration Matisse

Edward Steichen, Henri Matisse, an „La Serpentine“ arbeitend, 1913 Fotogravüre, 22 x 17,4 cm Paris, Musée d‘Orsay Inv.-Nr.: PHO1981-32-15 bpk / RMN - Grand Palais / Edward Steichen Henri Matisse © Succession H. Matisse/ VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018

2019 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the French painter, sculptor and graphic artist Henri Matisse (1869–1954). With his unconventional paintings that set new standards, Matisse had a lasting influence on the art of the 20th century. As early as 1905/06, his colorful and expressive pictures inspired a wealth of French and international painters. Color, form, surface, figure and space – Henri Matisse, the master of painterly innovation, combined these basic elements in an entirely new way around 1905. His figurative and symbolic reductions bordered on abstraction. The French painter, printmaker and sculptor Matisse (1869–1954) had a lasting influence on twentieth-century art. Hardly any young artist looking to build on modernist foundations, starting with impressionism, could fail to engage with his oeuvre. In developing and intensifying his means of artistic expression, Matisse continued to work within the European tradition while simultaneously opening himself up to the possibilities offered by oriental and far Eastern art.

With an exhibition of around 135 selected paintings, sculptures and graphic works, the Kunsthalle Mannheim presents Matisse as a pioneer of modernity and an example to his circle of younger contemporaries, whether the French fauvists, the German expressionists or students of the Académie Matisse—a true artist’s artist. In addition to landscape paintings, among which number famous Mediterranean scenes, the exhibition includes still lifes, studio pictures, and portraits, as well as a series of figures in space and nudes seen from behind. The pinnacle and finale of the exhibition are Matisse’s four famed life-sized “Backs”, which were created between 1909 and 1930 in a continual reduction of the artist’s sculptural expression.

In addition to Matisse, André Derain, Georges Braque, Charles Camoin, Kees van Dongen, Raoul Dufy, Henri Manguin and Albert Marquet are also represented in the exhibition, as well as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Alexej von Jawlensky, August Macke, Gabriele Münter and Max Pechstein. Works by the German pupils of Matisse Rudolf Levy, Oskar and Margarethe Moll, Hans Purrmann and Mathilde Vollmoeller are also included. The works by these different artists combine to create an exciting dialogue and reveal new perspectives. It becomes evident that Matisse led the way to new form and content, simultaneously acting as a catalyst for individual artistic liberation.

The exhibition includes works on loan from museums and private collections in Belgium, Denmark, France, the UK, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain and the US.

Sponsored by the Kunsthalle Mannheim Foundation and the H.W & J. Hector Foundation.

Curators: Dr. Peter Kropmanns (Paris), Dr. Ulrike Lorenz
Assistant Curators: Eva-Maria Schütz, M.A.; Elisabeth Bohnet, M.A.
Project Management: Dr. Inge Herold

The exhibition will be accompanied by the catalogue Inspiration Matisse, in German, with essays by Ina Ewers-Schultz, Simon Kelly, Simone Klein, Astrid Köhler, Peter Kropmanns, Ulrike Lorenz, Colin Lemoine, Isabelle Monod-Fontaine, Jacqueline Munck, Eva-Maria Schütz and Christian Weikop (Editor: Prestel-Verlag, Munich, September 2019)


With the support of France’s Ministry of Culture and Prof. Monika Grütters, Minister of State to the Federal Chancellor, Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

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