This years main exhibition at the National Gallery of Denmark
brings together a range of absolute masterpieces by Matisse from museums and private collections from all across the world. The exhibition, which is realised as a result of co-operation between the National Gallery of Denmark, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, adds a new chapter to our shared understanding of the French master painter.
A Quiet Dissident
Henri Matisse (1869-1954) is one of the main figures of art history in general and one of the most far-reaching innovators of the art of painting in the 20th century. His bold deformation of the human figure, his coarse lines, his liberation of colour, and his highly insistent accentuation of the painterly marked a clear break with the expectations of art prevalent at the time. Yet while his shocked contemporaries viewed these features as horrendously barbaric, Matisse himself had no desire for conflict and provocation. Rather, the paintings with their sense of harmony and optimistic colour schemes were intended to offer a moment of pleasure, independent from the toils and tragedies of everyday life.
Matisse meets Matisse
However, Matisses own approach to visual language was not quite as effortless and unproblematic as the final images may suggest. The exhibition Matisse Doubles and Variations presents a picture of an artist who retained an exploring and frequently doubting approach to his art throughout his life, constantly testing and challenging his own mode of expression. Or, as he himself put it: My concern is to push further and deeper into true painting.
Presenting 53 paintings, 15 drawings, and 22 photographs many of them major masterpieces the exhibition provides an overview of Matisses lifes work from the very beginnings of his career to the end. However, this exhibitions differs from standard retrospectives about this French artist by virtue of its insistent focus on the artistic process itself; here, Matisses method of exploration comes under close scrutiny. Special attention is directed towards how the artist would repeat the same motif in series and pairs while systematically varying the colours and modes of expression. The exhibition juxtaposes a wide range of these interrelated works, several of which have rarely been shown together since they left the artists studio.
Photo documentation and technical studies
During some periods of his career Matisse had his works photographed at crucial stages of the creative process. The photographs offered a way at capturing a range of possible solutions for each painting, documenting the often dramatic changes that would take place from one day to the next. The exhibition presents a range of these photographs, which testify to how the process itself was often as important to the artist as the final outcome. The exhibition also presents the results of technical studies conduced on a number of central works over the course of the years of research that preceded the exhibition. Together, these studies and photographs offer visitors a chance to gain deep insights into Matisses working process.
At the exhibition: themes, guide, and app
The exhibition has a chronological structure that allows visitors to trace how Matisse would often repeat and return to his subjects at different stages of his career. Before, during, and after their visit, visitors can immerse themselves in Matisses universe through sound, text, and images presented by an app for their smartphone or iPod. Visitors can borrow an iPod from the Gallerys Information desk during their visit.