MARCH 20, 2012

When I visit numerous exhibitions in Paris, I can’t stop admiring their arrangement, the fact that every minute detail in the art of exposition is well-thought out, the amazing fantasy and wit of their curators, the quality of framing an so on. Yet, two factors are, beyond doubt, crucial to any exhibition – the originality of the curator’s concept and the quality of the exhibits. The Pompidou Center regularly heartens one with its provocative, meaningful, quality and intelligent exhibitions. I have already spoken about the “Danser sa vie” exhibition, which is, unfortunately, about to close. Art lovers will certainly enjoy another curatorial tour de force – the exhibition “Henri Matisse. Pairs and Series,” which has opened recently at the Pompidou Center and will be on till June 18.

On show are graphic works and paintings of Matisse from the leading museums of the Old and the New World and from numerous private collections. Many pieces have been brought from America and a few from the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts of Moscow and the Hermitage of St. Petersburg. The underlying idea is quite simple – the exhibited works were made by the artist in the same year, using the same motif, theme or still life. Two or three painting shown on the same wall give the viewer an insight into the artist’s nitty-gritty by graphically demonstrating how his idea transformed into a coloristic or plastic solution. Not infrequently works displayed next to each other are so different that the question arises, “Could the two canvases been painted by the same artist?”

114 Henri Matisse. Pairs and Series

1. Still Life with Oranges. 1898-1899 Washington University Gallery of Art, St. Louis 2. Still Life Compote. Apples and Oranges. 1898-1899 The Baltimore Museum of Art

212 Henri Matisse. Pairs and Series

1. La Dance with Nasturtiums II. 1912 2. Nasturtiums with La Dance I. 1912 The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow

34 Henri Matisse. Pairs and Series

1. Interior with Goldfish Bowl. 1914 Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris 2. Goldfish and Palette. 1914-1915 МoМА, New York

44 Henri Matisse. Pairs and Series

1. Notre Dame, Paris. 1914 Kunstmuseum Solothurn, Soleure / Dübi-Müller-Stiftung 2. View of Notre Dame. 1914 МoМА, New York

54 Henri Matisse. Pairs and Series

1. Luxury II. 1907 Statens Museum for Kunst. Copenhagen 2. Luxury I (Luxe. Calme et Volupté). 1907 Centre Georges Pompidou. Paris

It is even more fascinating to follow the changes in the artist’s graphic sheets. Indeed, the up to 20 graphic works shown on one wall (or on the walls of one hall) rather form a series. Arranged in a certain order, envisaged by Matisse himself, they make it possible to observe how the artist gradually rejects everything superfluous and triflying in search for utmost harmony and the greatest effect on the viewer.

As the saying goes, better to see once that to hear a dozen times. If you happen to be in Paris these days, don’t miss this show.


Matisse, paires et séries – du 7 mars au 18 juin… by centrepompidou