Friday, October 7, 2016

The Art Books of Henri Matisse

Portland Museum of Art

This exhibition features one of the preeminent modernist artists of the 20th century, and offers a profound glimpse into the relationship between textual and visual imagery. 

The Art Books of Henri Matisse showcases four artist’s books by the pioneering French artist, including his renowned and highly influential Jazz. Even those deeply familiar with Matisse’s paintings will thrill to explore this remarkable side of his practice, which bear the artist’s signature energy, elegance, and color, but seen here in lithographs, etchings, pochoir (stencil) prints, and linocuts. 

Artist’s books—limited-edition publications featuring original works of art—became increasingly popular in Paris during the first decades of the 20th century, when a growing group of educated, bourgeois collectors sought new ways to acquire works by leading contemporary artists. Matisse, like many avant-garde painters, worked in the medium both to extend the popularity of his art and to explore new techniques. 

Using the book medium as an extension of his creative drawing practice, Matisse was able to distill his lifelong passion for the written word, while producing illustrations that were neither redundant with the written descriptions nor too independent of them. 

The books reflect an artist embracing new challenges through continuous experimentation and extraordinary creativity. Each of the four books on exhibit—

 Pasiphaë–Song of Minos (The Cretans)

 The Poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé,  

Poèms of Charles d’Orléans,  

and Jazz

reveal vastly different approaches to this medium, from manipulating white text on black pages (and vice versa) to making colorful cut-paper collages that he later used as stencils for the book. 

 Great review,more images: