An exhibition titled The Art Books of Henri Matisse, featuring works by the highly acclaimed 20th century French painter, is currently on display at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Charlotte, N.C., until Sept. 7, 2015.
Drawn primarily from the collection of Charlotte-based Bank of America, the exhibition features 80 framed original illustrations with text from four of Matisse’s most significant art books. Art books are important for their unique combination of written works and visual art. The presentation includes Jazz, one of the most celebrated artists’ books in modern art.
All told, Matisse created 12 art books over 20 years, and he intended each to be collected and appreciated as a contemplative work of art on its own. Eleven of the books were widely produced (Bank of America owns four), while Matisse made one exclusively for his family.
Bank of America provided the Matisse art books as part of its Art in Our Communities® program, which enables museums and nonprofit galleries to borrow partial or entire exhibitions from its corporate collection at no cost.
Since opening in 2010, the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art had always assembled or curated its exhibitions. This marks the first time the museum worked in partnership with another entity, borrowing an exhibition curated by Bank of America’s team, according to John Boyer, president and CEO of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. In addition, the museum complemented the exhibition with select pieces of its own Matisse art and other artists’ books.
Matisse (1869-1954) created a broad body of work that comprised paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture and paper cut-outs. His subjects of choice included landscapes, still life, portraiture, interiors and, notably, the female figure. He was regarded as one of the founders of Fauvism (fauve is French for “wild beast”), an avant-garde movement characterized by the artists’ use of bold brushstrokes, vibrant colors and energized forms.
“Matisse had been a vital, globe trotting, bon vivant filled with energy and appetites,” explained Boyer. “Effected with stomach surgeries and other maladies that left him wheelchair- and bed-bound, the circumstances encouraged him to find a new way of composing. Aesthetically the art books took him back to his beginnings as a Fauve.”
On view are prints and collages from these art books by Matisse:
• Poésies de Stéphane Mallarmé (The Poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé), 1932
• Pasiphaé – Chant de Minos (Les Crétois) (Paisphaé – Song of Minos, The Cretans), 1944
• Jazz, 1947
• Poèmes de Charles d’Orléans (Poems of Charles d’Orléans), 1950
Charles Bowman, North Carolina and Charlotte president, Bank of America, said, “We’re proud of our association with the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and happy to bring The Art Books of Henri Matisse to our hometown.”
When you go
The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 South Tryon Street, Charlotte, N.C., 28202
Click here for other articles by Mary Gilbert. You also can read her travel stories on her blog, The Roads Traveled, at theroadstraveled.com.