Pace Master Prints is pleased to announce Matisse Prints: 1906 – 1950, which will be on view at 32 East 57th Street, third floor, from October 17 through November 16, 2013. The exhibition will feature thirty important woodcuts, etchings, lithographs and aquatints created by the artist between 1906 and 1950.
In virtually every print medium, Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954) reveals his innate sense of the aesthetic possibilities of printmaking. Often following arduous sessions of easel painting, printmaking gave the artist a refreshing opportunity to reexamine the elements of composition and line. As in his drawings, Matisse concentrated almost exclusively on the study of the female form in his prints.
The earliest work in the exhibition is a striking woodcut from 1906, Petit bois clair. Executed with short, even strokes, the print radiates an intensity similar to Matisse’s Fauve paintings of the same year.
Matisse’s most prodigious years for printmaking were the 1920s while he was living in Nice. In several of the lithographs from this period on view, such as Odalisque voilée, Odalisque à la coupe de fruits, and Repos sur la banquette, Matisse swathes his models in exotic fabrics and surrounds them with richly patterned backgrounds. In 1925, Matisse created his iconic masterpiece in printmaking, Grande odalisque à la culotte bayadère, a fully realized and sensuous portrait of his favorite model of the period, Henriette Darricarrère, in billowing striped harem pants. An exceptionally fine impression of this rare lithograph will be included in the exhibition.
In a matter of only a few months in early 1929, Matisse created a constellation of over 100 etchings. Working directly on the copper plate, these small lively renderings, such as Orientale, tatouage en croix sur la poitrine, reveal the artist’s draftsmanship at its purest.
Matisse’s final engagement with printmaking came in the late 1940s when he made more than fifty sugar lift aquatints. On view will be a group of these striking portrait heads which demonstrate the renewed vigor and creative urge of the late years of Matisse’s life. In works such as Masque Mélancolique, Patiticha souriante, and Bédouine au large visage, the artist reduces the subject’s features to a minimum of bold sweeps of black brushed directly on the copper plate.
In the more than 850 prints he created during his lifetime, Matisse remained faithful to the long tradition of black and white printmaking. A notable exception is the beautiful aquatint printed in five colors, Marie-José en robe jaune, 1950. A vibrant impression of this rare aquatint will be one of the highlights of the exhibition.