Met Uses Dress to Deconstruct Matisse’s Creative Process

Finished product and earlier stage of Matisse’s The Large Blue Dress (1937). Source: Philadelphia Museum of Art. © 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Finished product and earlier stage of Matisse’s The Large Blue Dress (1937). Source: Philadelphia Museum of Art. © 2012 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

After walking through gallery after gallery of spectacular Matisse works, it’s a little shocking to turn enter Gallery 6 and see the actual skirt that his model wore to inspire one of his most loved works. Maybe it’s not so shocking, considering how much he loved textiles.

This surprise is just one part of a fascinating eight-gallery blockbuster that deconstructs the master’s creative process – the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s show Matisse: In Search of True Painting.

The show features nearly 50 works from Matisse’s career, chosen especially to reveal his thoughts behind selecting the colors, shapes, and patterns that we know so well. They’ve brought together versions of the same work and hung them next to one another. The Met’s website has views of each gallery.

The Gallery 2 view shows how the Met has displayed some of Matisse’s 1906 experiments. Check out this video narrated by curator Rebecca Rabinow:

Since Matisse liked to have visual reference points, by the 1930s he began more formal documentation of the various stages of each work. His famous Large Blue Dress painting (1937), lent by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, not only features photos of the painting’s stages but the actual blue dress made and worn by the model, Lydia Delectorskaya. Let the curator tell you more about it:

Take a look at some of the selected highlights of the show on the web, but get over to see it all in person to experience fully the power of Matisse’s color and light in a unique, exceptional, and illuminating context.

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