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Henri Matisse



Sculpting Forms
Henri Matisse, French (1869-1954), <i>Head of Marguerite</i>, 1915. bronze ©Succession H. Matisse, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
zoom Henri Matisse, French (1869-1954), Head of Marguerite, 1915. bronze ©Succession H. Matisse, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

Matisse’s sculptures tend to be overshadowed by his paintings. Matisse turned to sculpture off and on, usually when he was having difficulty with a painting. It offered both an escape from his painting problem and a way to understand his subject better. In all, he created more than seventy sculptures.

Most of Matisse’s sculptures are small, freestanding figures. He made them first in clay and then had them cast in bronze. Madeleine I was his first important bronze sculpture. Matisse took great pleasure in manipulating the clay’s shape and surface texture. Often he made multiple versions of the same piece, either starting over or reworking an existing sculpture. Through sculpture he could study a three-dimensional form by moving all around it, before flattening it into a two-dimensional image in his painting.


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1. This figure’s snakelike body twists and bulges yet seems natural because of the way Matisse modeled it. ,
Madeleine I, 1901, bronze ©Succession H. Matisse, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
2. Just as he exaggerated the curves of Madeleine I, Matisse gave this figure a very long body and placed it at an exaggerated angle.
Large Seated Nude, about 1923-25, bronze ©Succession H. Matisse, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

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November 2006