Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza

Matisse’s career can be divided into a creative triumvirate. This exhibition focuses on the central period of his career – from 1917 to 1941 – which was the longest, yet possibly the least understood. This was a divided era for the artist; the 1920s illustrated the growing acceptance of modern art both by society and institutions, while the 1929 world financial crisis, followed by the Depression and finally World War II brought Matisse’s focus to social issues.

With signs that the first World War was coming to an end, Matisse left his family in Paris to settle in Nice. Abandoning his early large-format flat colored tableaux, he began to reintroduce a feeling of volume and space into his work that he had abandoned in his previous period, which he called “painting of intimacy”. While Byzantine and Islamic art had provided earlier inspiration, the artist’s focus was shifting to the intimate style of 17th century Dutch painting and a growing interest in Cézanne, although his formalist aesthetic which had always guided his painting, continued through his new style.

From 1927 Matisse became less productive and eventually ceased, until a commission from Philadelphia businessman Alfred Barnes brought a return to painting and Matisse’s decorative style. However, in 1934 he returned to his “painting of intimacy”, which had become more introspective and began to concentrate more on line than on volume and space. The finale of this period was marked by a series of drawings entitled “Thèmes et Variations” in 1941.

June 9 through September 20, 2009
Paseo del Prado, 8. 28014 Madrid
T. +34 913 690 151