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Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954), Interior with Egyptian Curtain, 1948, oil on canvas. The Phillips Collection, Washington D.C., © 2017 Succession H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


Suzanne Volmer

“Matisse in the Studio,” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston through July 9, is the MFA’s spring/summer blockbuster. The show, jointly organized by the MFA and the Royal Academy of Arts, London in partnership with the Musée Matisse, Nice, includes “rare pairings of Matisse’s masterpieces with objects of inspiration.”

MFA director Matthew Teitelbaum explained that “Matisse in the Studio” is an opportunity to consider “the connections across borders, sensibilities and functions that an artist’s eye can help us to see.” MFA curator Helen Burnham, Ann Dumas of the Royal Academy of Arts and Ellen McBreen, an associate professor at Wheaton College, co-curated “Matisse in the Studio” as an examination of Matisse’s artistic growth in relation to objects in his collection that inspired the trajectory of his innovation.

The show complements an earlier exhibition, “Matisse: His Art and His Textiles, The Fabric of Dreams,” that was shown at the Royal Academy of Arts and was developed in affiliation with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 2005.

“Matisse in the Studio” expansively unfolds for viewers across multiple gallery rooms and includes paintings from across his career. The exhibition covers approximately 40 years of productivity, with painterly gems exuding luxuriant color, texture and spatial reasoning. The show’s layout is formatted in a cool, spare style that showcases Matisse’s palette choices, arranged in counterpoint with his black-and-white drawings, prints and sculptures. Vignettes of information relate to studio artifacts that are displayed in close proximity.

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