In that September 1930 meeting, Barnes commissioned Matisse to create a
mural for the main hall of the Barnes Foundation then located in Merion, a
suburb of Philadelphia. The Matisse in the 1930s exhibition shows us a
video of Matisse and his dog going up and down a moveable staircase as he
worked on La Danse, the large mural that would take him several attempts
to perfect. The mural, which he developed with paper cutouts, was
completed by 1933.
During this decade, Matisse developed new approaches (styles and
methods) to his architecturally large and canvas-sized artwork. However,
the curators also show us an example of a painting he struggled with in The
Yellow Dress (1929-1931). The curators tell us "Pentimenti, or visible
corrections, show us that he expanded the taffeta dress, and he decided not
to show the chair, resulting in a striking effect of weightlessness."
The exhibition is presented chronologically in these sections: "Interiors
and Odalisques" (from the Nice, France period 1917-1930), Barnes mural
and illustrated books of poetry (including the poetry of Stéphane
Mallarmé), "Artist and Model" (includes Large Reclining Nude—from
Baltimore Museum of Art), "A Mural in Motion" (Matisse's collaboration
with Ballets Russes de Monte-Carlo on Red and Black ballet—video), and
drawings done while he convalesced from abdominal cancer surgery.
There are numerous artworks worthy of attention in this exhibition and
not popularly known. The advantage of having this show open at the
Philadelphia Museum of Art is that one could continue the pleasure of
seeing works by Matisse, including La Danse, at the new location of the
Barnes Foundation which is within short walking distance if planned
carefully. Reservations are required in both museums.
Matisse in the 1930s was curated by Matthew Affron, Muriel and Philip
Berman Curator of Modern Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; Cécile
Debray, president of the Musée Naitonal Picasso-Paris; and Claudine
Grammont, director of the Musée Matisse Nice. The exhibition will be
mounted next at the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris from Feb. 27 through
May 29, 2023, and concluded at the Musée Matisse Nice from June 23
through Sep. 24, 2023.