Yesterday, I traveled to the beautiful Baltimore Museum of Art to see the Matisse – Diebenkorn Exhibition. I had mixed feelings about the show.
Diebenkorn on the Left – Matisse’s Woman in Yellow Dress on the Right
Because I have long loved Matisse, I was disappointed that the brilliantly colored and heavily designed Matisse paintings were not part of the show. In the Matisse – Diebenkorn exhibition, the priority was that of correlating paintings that were similar in hue and in other ways. At the Baltimore Museum of Art, however, there are numerous brightly-colored Matisse paintings in the permanent collection. Baltimore has the largest collection of Matisses in the world, and while the Matisses in the special exhibition are muted to correlate with some of Diebenkorn’s more muted paintings, the BMA permanent collection is brimming with the bright Matisses that many of us treasure.
Henri Matisse – Interior with a Dog – Permanent Collection BMA
While Matisse was still living and when he was more affordable, the Cone sisters from Baltimore collected many Matisse paintings and when they died, the vast Cone collection was bequeathed to the Baltimore Museum of Art. The Matisses in that collection are delightfully vivid.
The BMA has carefully reconstructed the Baltimore apartments of the two Cone sisters and a slice of their apartments is housed as part of the collection. A sophisticated virtual tour of the apartments is also housed at the museum.
The Cone Collection also houses other artists who were contemporaries of Matisse. There are Picasso paintings and Renoir paintings and Bonnards and Gauguins, etc.
The large Gauguin painting of the man with a cello is in the Cone collection, and it is much more brilliant than this image conveys.
Because there are numerous bright and colorful paintings in the permanent Cone collection of the BMA, it is easier to appreciate that the Matisse paintings chosen for the special Diebenkorn exhibition are not what many of us love about the Fauvistic Matisse.
Believe it or not, Matisse painted the following:
Matisse – Goldfish with Palette
And Matisse painted the following image on the left, which is compared to the Diebenkorn on the right.
A large number of Diebenkorn’s grilled abstracts are part of the Matisse – Diebenkorn exhibition, but there are other of his types of art, too, and in some of that work, you are able to see how Matisse’s use of pattern and design influenced Diebenkorn.
Henri Matisse – Reclining Nube with a Flowered Robe – 1923
Richard Diebenkorn – Woman Seated in a Chair 1963
Notice how Matisse’s sense of design presents itself in the following abstract painting by Diebenkorn:
Richard Diebenkorn – Berkely Years
In the above painting, the highly designed swatch is painted on the interior of a room, and on the right of the painting, there is a window that looks out. Matisse painted several room interiors with windows that looked outside.
Henri Matisse – Studio, Quai Saint-Michel – 1916
A few of Matisse’s still life paintings were part of the exhibit, and my favorite of the Diebenkorn paintings were his still life paintings.
Diebenkorn – Still Life with Oranges
Diebenkorn’s still life paintings are painterly and they are like his painterly abstracts that are reminiscent of Hans Hoffman.
Diebenkorn – Berkely No. 23
Richard Diebenkorn – Still Life with Iris [Not part of the Matisse Diebenkorn exhibit]
Diebenkorn’s Still Life with Iris is a bridge between his painterly still lifes and his painterly abstracts.
The Matisse – Diebenkorn exhibition will move to San Francisco in 2017, but I advise anyone who can do so to see the show at the BMA. I especially advise those who love the colorful Matisse paintings to see the show in Baltimore. There, you will be able to see the gigantic influence that Matisse had on Diebenkorn, but you will also be able to see the older master’s more vivid paintings as well. They are part of the BMA’s permanent Cone Sisters Collection
©Jacki Kellum October 30, 2016