Henri Matisse is widely acknowledged as a major influence on modern artists working throughout the 20th century, and his work in color and shape, mood and movement, have inspired many more than the 34 artists who have 44 works, influenced by Matisse, in the current “Matisse and American Art,” at the Montclair Art Museum (MAM). This brilliant show contrasts work by Matisse with groupings of works of other artists and, with works from the collections of private collectors as well as from institutions like the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and New Jersey’s own Newark Museum just to name a few, the work in this exhibition is nonpareil.
Co-curators Gail Stavitsky, Chief Curator of MAM and John Cauman, an author and scholar whose dissertation “Matisse and America, 1905 – 1933” provided the inspiration for the event, have spent more than six years developing this show that began with a conversation back in 2011. Both have contributed excellent essays to the catalogue and you will get a picture of Matisse the person as well as Matisse as artist, innovator, mentor and inspiration from the equally inspired writing overall.
The galleries are roughly arranged chronologically and there is literally a treat around every corner. Seeing the influence of Matisse through the eyes of artists like Faith Ringgold, who takes shapes and translates them to textile art, Sophie Matisse–the artist’s own great granddaughter and an artist in her own right whose collage in this exhibition was inspired by a retrospective of Henri’s work, to Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Diebenkorn and Helen Frankenthaler, and so many more. Plan to spend an entire afternoon, but you’ll still not get enough.
A companion show comprised of artists in the MAM’s permanent collection, “Inspired by Matisse,” is running through July 29 and is an excellent way to either whet your appetite for the special exhibition or finish your meal of Matisse with a lingering dessert of art of many media. Catch a tour with a docent to learn more and then visit the gift shop for your copy of the catalogue for this show. It’s a keeper.
First Thursday, held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month from October to June, is a great way to get your first taste of the exhibition as well as perhaps an adult beverage and a bite. The same nominal exhibition fee applies to “Matisse and American Art” though many other activities are available at no additional charge.
See this art–it is emotionally moving, and a physical, sensual delight. I’m already getting my group together to go–perhaps we’ll see you there!
“Matisse and American Art” runs through June 18, 2017 only, so get your tickets now. You’ll definitely want to see it several times. Learn more about First Thursdays and the finest collection of Native American art and new exhibitions at www.Montclair-art.com