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Matisse: Life & Spirit—Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou

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Art Gallery of NSW / Sydney / Art

In 1905, when Henri Matisse and his fellow Fauves (“wild beasts”) exhibited together at the Salon d’Automne, the room was alive with lusty color, which the critic Louis Vauxcelles described as an “orgy of pure tones.” Matisse’s Fauvist adventures paved the way for his travels to Algeria, Spain, and Morocco, where he painted scenes in unmodulated color. The 1920s, however, saw him moving into neoclassicism along with other artists of the time. In 1941, bedbound after cancer surgery, Matisse began to make cut-outs, works of sublime simplicity. “An artist must never be a prisoner of himself,” he famously said. “Prisoner of a style, prisoner of a reputation, prisoner of success.” This exhibition, Sydney’s largest ever on Matisse, traces the artist’s life through paintings, drawings, sculptures, and cut-outs. Highlights include Le Luxe I (1907) and the mid-career masterpiece Decorative Figure on an Ornamental Ground, completed in 1925. —E.C.

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