That old radical Matisse

There’s happy news for those in, and about to visit, New York. The Matisse show at MoMA, Matisse: Radical Invention, doesn’t close until October 11th, so there’s still time to catch it. And catch it you should. You’ll need a timed ticket to get it because, as with all blockbuster shows, it’s packed. [Guess what recent blockbuster show at MoMA was one of best-attended EVER? Ready for this? The Tim Burton retrospective!] The whole timed ticket thing is a bit of a pain in the ass, but it doesn’t cost any extra and you won’t get in without it.

Boy, I love Matisse. He’s the anti-Renoir. I can’t stand Auguste Renoir, with his pastelly, soft focus greeting card art. But Matisse is the guts, man. This show is the proof. These painting were executed mid-career and don’t fit into neat categories. It was a period of experimentation for Matisse. They are some of his more abstract works.

I love this painting. The Italian Woman. Look at those fantastic angles on the left side of the canvas. Mama mia!


This painting is as creepy as anything that was in the Burton show. His eyes are black and hollow. They follow you around the gallery and know what’s in your demented little soul. Easily, the best work in the show.


Matisse at play: On the left, a table, a bowl and some apples, quickly sketched and rendered. The table and background are given a radical treatment. Remember, folks, this is around 1914! Hanging next to this is the same table, bowl and apples. This time, however, a slower, more thoughtful rendition.


The Moroccans. Matisse considered this work to be one of his most “pivotal.” I thought they were men bowed in prayer. They’re melons! I don’t know shit from shinola.


MoMA has early morning viewing hours for members before the museum opens, Wednesdays–Mondays, 9:30–10:30 a.m. You can buy breakfast with mimosas and there ain’t no crowds. If you’re in my zip code, contact me and I’ll get us in.

* * *

Here are a few bonus paintings from MoMA for those of you who hung in through the entire post.

Gauguin’s playful Still Life with Three Puppies.


Vinnie van G.’s Starry Night. There’s always a big crowd around this painting. Do you know why? Because it’s a really moving piece of art. And, unlike the Mona Lisa, when you see this in person for the fist time, you’re not disappointed.


14 thoughts on “That old radical Matisse

  1. I think you are right about the Moroccans. They may be melons, but they are definitely melons in prayer. I love art that is just a little bit off which is why I’ve always loved Matisse.

  2. Me like me a bit of Matisse as well, here in the burgh we have the Warhol and while i’m no fan of Andy i do appreciate the stuff they bring in, Piet Mondrian’s show was stellar and right now they have a dual show with Marcel Duchamp and Warhol. Tim Burton? pleas tell me you’re joking? other than the fact i adore his wife i cannot think of a more talentless hack. oh and happy b-day R. Crumb, it was yesterday.

  3. Daisy: You really do need to get your rear end out here for an afternoon at MoMA.Cat: I always study a painting before reading anything about it. I like to get my take on it before I’m told what it’s supposed to be.Kono: My brother is a big Duchamp fan but I never got him. He + Warhol (who I like a lot) is perfect match. Two fakers. And Burton? Lighten up! The exhibit was fun and never supposed to be fine art. Unfortunately, the galleries were kind of small and it was so PACKED that it was hard to enjoy. Didn’t know about Crumb. Thanks for that bit of info. Have you seen his Illustrated Book of Genesis? Brilliant stuff.

  4. Oh! Thanks for this little gallery gander.Much appreciated since I can’t get to NY.(A friend is flying down to Melbourne to see the Masters +Tim Burton soon)You are right, I think, to form your own opinions before being “told what to see.”And your dark-eyed man? Lenin!

  5. EG: I love the cut outs! But they weren’t included. This was a mid-career retrospective and the cut outs occurred later in life. I believe he did them because his eyesight was failing and he couldn’t see well enough to paint.Dinah: Crikey! You’re right! It is Lenin, isn’t it?! I never saw it.Ellie: I’ve never even HEARD of that place! Wish I was there right now. Thanks for the tip.

  6. Love Matisse…the bridge to the surreal IMHO…..sometimes I miss being near The City. We have a great collection at the NCMA, mind you, and a stellar new building, but we seem to be stuck recycling the Impressionists….I know, I know…they’re all so beautiful…and yes, they were radicals in their day. But I tend to think that the general populous is a bit overly fixated. I harbor a belief that the most popular of art forms reflect the intellectual and cultural aspirations of a society. So at this point we’re, I’d say, about 130 YEARS behind. Call it an anthropological lag.

  7. Ponita: I’ve been fortunate enough to see that painting dozens of times and it’s still a thrill after all these years.JZ: It’s easy to fixate on the Impressionists an bloody hard to embrace things like Duchamp’s bicycle wheel or Francis Bacon’s horror show.

  8. UB- i should lighten up (laughing) but i can’t, i don’t watch movies anyway so i probably wouldn’t know a TB movie if i saw it, though i like stories and from what i gather his flicks are long on visual trickery and short on substance. The Warhol/Duchamp exhibit runs into late Sept? i think, if you come through Pittsburgh you should definitely check it out, if you like Andy you should come just for his stuff, it’s an interesting place, largest one artist museum in the country.

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