Matisse Picasso

Matisse Picasso

by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Kirk Varnedoe, John Elderfield, John Golding
Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso have long been seen as the twin giants of modern art, as polar opposites but also as complementary figures. Between them they are the originators of many of the most significant innovations of 20th-century painting and sculpture, but their relationship has rarely been explored in all of its closeness and complexity. In spite of their


Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso have long been seen as the twin giants of modern art, as polar opposites but also as complementary figures. Between them they are the originators of many of the most significant innovations of 20th-century painting and sculpture, but their relationship has rarely been explored in all of its closeness and complexity. In spite of their initial rivalry, the two masters eventually acknowledged one another as equals, becoming, in their old age, increasingly important to one another both artistically and personally. From the time of their initial encounters in 1906 in Gertrude and Leo Stein's Paris studio until 1917, they individually produced some of the greatest art of the 20th century and maintained an openly competitive relationship brimming with intense innovation. This period saw them create such works as Picasso's majestic "Woman with a Fan" of 1908 and Matisse's great portrait of his wife of 1913. Matisse responds to Synthetic Cubism in his "Piano Lesson" of 1916 and Picasso comes back in turn with a new, more decorative Cubism in "Three Musicians" of 1921. The 20s saw them grow apart, as Matisse moved from Paris to Nice and Picasso became involved with the Surrealists, but the 30s brought them together again, through their sheer fame and devotion to reality-based art. Their story continues until Matisse's death in 1954, when Picasso paid his friend and colleague tribute in his series Women of Algiers, of which he said, "When Matisse died, he left his odalisques to me as a legacy." Matisse Picasso presents the artists' oeuvres in groupings that reveal the affinities but also the extreme contrasts of their artistic visions. Published to accompany the landmark exhibition, a joint effort of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate Modern, London; the Rªunion des musªes nationaux/Musªe Picasso and the Musªe national d'art moderne/Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Matisse Picasso is the first major examination of the fascinating relationships between their art, their careers, and their lives. Thirty-four essays, each by a member of the exhibition's curatorial team, focus on a particular moment in the artists' evolving relationship. The authors present in-depth analyses of specific aspects of the unique artistic dialogue between Matisse and Picasso as reflected in selected juxtapositions of each artist's works. These texts are accompanied by an introductory history, commentary on the public perception of important artistic relationships, and an extensive chronology.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It may have been obvious at the time, but the fact that the two (arguably) greatest painters of the 20th century exchanged ideas fluidly, obliquely and prolifically comes as a shock when put as starkly as in this catalogue and the international blockbuster exhibition it accompanies. The authors, eminent curators all, put together the exhibition (currently hanging at New York's Museum of Modern Art) and contribute a total of 34 short essays contrasting particular works and exploring the currents of the two men's mutual influence, including fauvism and cubism. Matisse's Le bonheur de vivre (1905-6) cemented itself in Picasso's mind from their first meeting, and would "reverberate in Picasso's imagination throughout his life," writes Golding. Varnedoe notes the influence of Matisse's Goldfish and Palette on Picasso's 1915 Harlequin, recalling how a dealer said that Matisse declared that his goldfish had "led to" the other man's harlequin. Unfortunately, an indifferent layout and setting of the text takes some of the charge out of the comparisons-a problem that extends to the flat-seeming cover. And a fairly big chunk of Picasso's oeuvre may look dated to many readers, particularly in comparing his late drawings with Matisse's cut-outs. But the mini-essays are of high quality, and anyone who cares about 20th century art will want to be able to trace the overt and covert steals and competitions chronicled here, as well as the often warm personal relationship. (Feb.) Forecast: For readers who don't want to pay the high admission fee here, there is Jack Flam's Matisse and Picasso: The Story of Their Rivalry and Friendship (Forecasts, Jan. 6) It has fewer illustrations, but gets at the exchanges. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Accompanying a major exhibition at the Tate Modern in London, the Pompidou Center in Paris, and New York City's Museum of Modern Art, this is the first exhibition catalog to examine the visual dialog between the great 20th-century artists Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. Chronologically divided by period and style into sections comparing and contrasting artworks by each master, the catalog offers 34 thought-provoking essays by the exhibition's curators. In one example, two Matisse paintings from 1915-16 are compared to a Picasso painting from 1921, revealing how Matisse was absorbing stylistic elements from Picasso's cubist works and how, in turn, Picasso was translating Matisse's interest in color into his paintings. An introductory essay succinctly describes the influences and responses of each artist and how their relationship developed from a rivalry of style and temperament to a true respect for each other's work. A scholarly chronology and 220 color illustrations of all exhibited works add value to this volume. Recommended for all art collections. [See also Jack Flam's Matisse and Picasso: A Story of Their Rivalry and Friendship, LJ 2/15/03.-Ed.]-Sandra Rothenberg, Framingham State Coll., MA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

The Museum of Modern Art
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
10.02(w) x 12.52(h) x 1.42(d)

Meet the Author

Henri Matisse was born in 1869 and grew up in northern France, near Belgium. As a young man he studied law and worked in the courts until, convalescing after appendicitis, he began to paint. His work became some of the most important art made in the twentieth century. It is intensely composed and colored; he was the leader of the Fauvists and soon an acknowledged leader across the arts. His career was powerful and enduring by any standard, and 50 years after death in 1954, his work continues to rise in value. In 2003, The Museum of Modern Art organized 'Matisse Picasso,' a show setting the two artists' work side by side, and in 2005 Matisses' son's collection of his work appeared at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Kirk Varnedoe, formerly chief curator of the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, is professor of historical studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University.

Anne Baldassari is Curator at the Musee Picasso, Paris.

Elizabeth Cowling is Senior Curator at the Department of Fine Art, University of Edinburgh.

John Golding is a freelance art historian based in London.

Isabelle Monod-Fontaine is Deputy Director at the MusEe national d'art moderne/Centre Pompidou, Paris.

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