The Future of Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse, Interior with Egyptian Curtain, 1948, oil on canvas, 45 3/4 x 35
Henri Matisse, Interior with Egyptian Curtain, 1948, oil on canvas, 45 3/4 x 35 1/8 inches (The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.)

Thomas Micchelli blogs about Matisse's 1948 painting Interior with Egyptian Curtain (Phillips Collection) currently on view in the exhibition Matisse: In Search of True Painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, on view through March 17, 2013.

Micchelli writes: "Matisse has painted not one picture but three abutted together: the window, the curtain and the still life. While each competes for your attention in its own dazzling way — the window in an explosion of short strokes, the curtain with an interlocking pattern of abstracted shapes, and the still life with a simple but blazing interaction of yellow, pink, black and white — to the postmodern eye the combination of components seem to betray a loss of faith in the ability of a single image to express the fullness of an artist’s vision." Micchelli continues, noting that "the jangling, jazzy profusion of images deny the painting a conventional center of interest. The images, however, do not direct the eye to all four quadrants of the canvas, as Matisse does in his other interiors; instead they compact a heightened level of interest in three discreet sections. To again take the work from a postmodern perspective, Matisse’s “Interior with an Egyptian Curtain” can be viewed as more overt in its deconstruction of pictorial integrity than something like Willem de Kooning’s black-and-white 'Painting,' which was done the same year."