A $5 million project at the Baltimore Museum of Art will help visitors learn more about Henri Matisse, one of France’s most celebrated artists. The new research center will be dedicated to studying the artist and his legacy while encouraging students and scholars from around the world to visit in search of knowledge.
The “Baltimore museum boasts new $5 million Matisse research center” is a story about the Baltimore Museum of Art, which has opened its Henri Matisse Research Center. The center is a 5-story building that includes exhibition space and a library.
In Spring 2022, the Baltimore Museum of Art will build a $5 million study center dedicated only to Henri Matisse. Let’s hope the investigation uncovers all of his blunders.
(I’ll get to it in a minute.)
Artists, in my opinion, should not chat and should instead focus on their work. Consider what Edouard Manet remarked to writer George Moore about his brother’s wife, Impressionist Berthe Morisot: “My sister-in-law wouldn’t have been recognized if it hadn’t been for me.” (Are you serious, Ed?)
Renoir’s distributor, Ambroise Vollard, recorded him dismissing Impressionism: “In a word, Impressionism was a blind hole, as far as I’m concerned.” (Now it’s up to you to inform us.)
“I’m weary of portraits… and desire very much to stroll off to some charming country, where I might paint landscapes,” Thomas Gainsborough tells his friend, conductor-composer William Jackson. (Tom, who’s stopping you?)
Here’s one of my all-time favorite art talks. It’s from historians Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith’s biography “Jackson Pollock: An American Saga,” where they mention an occurrence that should go down in history.
“How do you know when you’re finished?” a lady said as Pollock flung paint from the end of a stick at a canvas. “How do you know when you’re done making love?” he answered. (Jack, it’s apples and oranges!)
So, when the Smithsonian magazine reported that the Baltimore Museum’s new research center will have a dedicated display area, library, and study room for Matisse, I couldn’t help but wonder whether at least some of his contradicting claims would be revealed.
I’m thinking of all the good lines in “Notes d’un Peintre,” like how he “dreams of tranquillity free of difficult or dismal subject matter” in his paintings. “Mental soothers,” he termed them, “like a comfy recliner in which to repose from physical exhaustion.”
To illustrate his argument, Matisse used the “gossamer appearance of a woman’s clothing that slides off her shoulders” as an example of relaxing. However, The Conversation, a representation of himself and his wife Amelie Parayre, is anything from relaxing.
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Henri, keep dreaming.
Surely, his vision of tranquility would appear in a photograph of his home life, but it does not. Instead, you observe Amelie sitting stiffly with an upright stance, staring hard at him standing stiffly in front of her.
Despite the fact that Matisse is dressed in his pajamas and Amelie is dressed in a dressing gown, the tightness of their position creates an unsettling tension that makes the scenario seem more like a conflict than a dialogue.
“What I am seeking, above all, is expression,” Matisse says in “Notes d’un Peintre,” contradicting his goal of calm for his paintings: “What I am wanting, above all, is expression.” The human figure is what I’m most interested in. Poetry is via it that I am able to adequately portray the virtually religious emotion I have about life.”
If only he’d just be quiet and paint.
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