LONDON.- Helly Nahmad Gallery
presents a collection of radiant masterpieces by Henri Matisse (18691954). Influenced by the relaxed and joyous atmosphere of the Côte dazur, Henri was at his happiest and most creative in this warm, lightfilled environment. Here he produced some of his most beautiful works; luminous vistas, sensual models in flower filled interiors, open windows looking out to the dazzling blue sea. Also exhibited, and in great contrast to the radiant paintings, are the four monumental bronze Backs. Developed alongside his painted compositions in which the figure was a central feature, these monolithic sculptures of female figures were made at intervals between 1909 and 1930. Kindly loaned by Tate, and at almost 2m tall, these sculptures show a progression of the female form, moving away from naturalism towards a more abstract, primitive and direct sense of the nude.
Henri Matisse (Le Cateau 1869 Nice 1954) was one of the most important and influential artists of the modern period. He worked ambitiously and with great mastery in all the traditional artistic media, and even invented an important new technique for making large compositions, the paper cut-out, or papier découpé.
At the heart of his work, though, are his achievements in oil painting and sculpture cast in bronze, two highly traditional methods from which Matisse wrought thoroughly unconventional, unexpected, and often delightful results.
Another paradox of his art is that he was a man of the solid working-class ethic and contested battlefields of the North who became completely identified with the hedonistic South of France, specifically the meridional climate and intense visual and other pleasures of Nice, which are so prominent in the paintings in this exhibition. In Matisses work rigour and sensuality are allied in a way that is unique in modern art.