Luxe, Calme et Volupté: Matisse at the Met

The Matisse exhibition at the Met is a fascinating look into Matisse’s processes and methods. For Matisse, the process and the finished painting were equally important as he aimed to “push further and deeper into true painting”. The exhibition therefore shows pairs and series as Matisse repainted and compared compositions.

The show opens with Luxe, Calme et Volupté (which gave me goose bumps!), painted in the south of France using the pointillist/divisionism technique. Matisse’s early years were influenced by Signac (such as Luxe, Calme et Volupté) and Cezanne. Looking closer to his paintings, we can see heavy traces of paint and the likely use of the brush tips, giving an insight into Matisse’s technique. Matisse was interested in the picture’s background, not just the subject itself. He liked using strong colours as well as black. When he didn’t know what colour to put down, he would use black and would even do so to paint light.

I loved the Laurette paintings (Laurette was a professional model who approached Matisse successfully), particularly Laurette seated on a pink armchair. The most interesting part of the exhibition, in my view, was the room with three paintings shown along with photographs documenting his progress from the beginning to completion. Matisse used photography to measure his progress and the photos were exhibited in the Maeght gallery, making public his process and methods. Matisse wanted to show he hadn’t lost his innovative flair.

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