Matisse from SFMOMA

Henri Matisse, La fille aux yeux verts (The Girl with Green Eyes), 1908 (collect
Henri Matisse, La fille aux yeux verts (The Girl with Green Eyes), 1908 (collection SFMOMA, bequest of Harriet Lane Levy; © Succession H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; photo: Ben Blackwell)

Jed Perl reviews the exhibition Matisse from SFMOMA at The Legion of Honor, San Francisco, on view through September 7, 2014.

Perl writes: "Matisse has been so assiduously promoted by generations of critics, curators, and historians as the prophet of the big, bold, knock-your-socks-off decorative canvas that it can come as a wonderful surprise to see a more intimate, ruminative side of his art... The show reaches from tiny, speculative landscapes and still lifes done around 1900 when Matisse was just starting out, to a study of two elegantly dressed women titled The Conversation (1938), one of a fascinating group of late-career paintings in which bold color is laid down with a speculative ease more familiar from the graphic arts. Missing from the show—due to loan restrictions—is the most famous of SFMOMA’s Stein Matisses, the Woman with a Hat, which Leo and Gertrude rescued from the jeering crowds at the Salon d’Automne in 1905. But even without that dazzling experiment in coloristic counterpoint this little show makes a very big case—a case for the extent to which Matisse’s radical discoveries are grounded in inwardness and intimism..."