A Spectacular Matisse Exhibition Is Opening at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

matisse exhibit sydney

As “Freedom Day” inches closer, we can start to look forward to filling our calendars once more with social and cultural events.

One event, in particular, that should be on every Sydneysiders radar is the upcoming Matisse exhibition which is due to open at the Art Gallery of New South Wales on November 20, 2021.

As part of the Sydney International Art Series 2021–22, the major exhibition Matisse: Life & Spirit, Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou, Paris presents the extraordinary range and depth of art by Henri Matisse, one of the world’s most beloved, innovative and influential artists.

The largest exhibition of the artist’s masterworks ever to be seen in Sydney, Matisse: Life & Spirit has been developed by the Art Gallery of NSW in collaboration with France’s leading modern art museum, Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, which holds a world-renowned collection of Matisse’s work. This comprehensive exhibition will also include major loans from international institutions and private collections including The Lewis Collection, Musée Matisse in Le Cateau-Cambrésis and the Musée de Grenoble, France.

Visitors to this must-see exhibition will be able to feast their eyes on more than 100 works of brilliant colour and inventiveness, comprising paintings, drawings, sculptures and a compelling presentation of the artist’s triumphant late ‘cut-outs’, many of which have never been seen in Australia.

The exhibition reveals how Matisse, one of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century, constantly renewed and revitalised his art across six decades.

Highlights of Matisse: Life & Spirit, Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou, Paris include an especially important early work Le luxe I 1907; the mid-career masterpiece Decorative figure on an ornamental ground 1925; the majestic and monumental ‘self-portrait’, The sorrow of the king 1952, one of the largest of the cut-outs that the artist created in his late career; and one of Matisse’s most famous works from his series of cut-outs depicting the female form, Blue nude II 1952.

‘We are proud to offer our visitors an encounter with one of the world’s greatest collections of Matisse’s work here in Sydney on Gadigal country,” said Art Gallery of NSW director Dr Michael Brand.

“The exhibition traces the development of the artist’s practice from his early breakthroughs into fauvism through to his late, great experiments in colour.

“These masterworks from the Centre Pompidou will reveal Matisse’s profound lifelong search to convey the vitality, joy and energy of the world as he saw it, which couldn’t be more relevant to our audiences today.”

The exhibition follows the Art Gallery’s popular solo exhibitions of the great French modernists, Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris in 2011, and Monet and the Impressionists in 2009.

Born in 1869 in northern France, Henri Matisse was a tirelessly inventive draughtsman, printmaker, painter and sculptor who was a pioneer of fauvism and the creator of some of the defining works of artistic modernism. Dedicated throughout his life to his artistic search, Matisse also lived through personal and political challenges, including two world wars and a battle with cancer. He made one of his most important bodies of work towards the end of his life, the famous paper cut-outs. Matisse passed away on November 3, 1954, at the age of 84.

Matisse: Life & Spirit, Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou, Paris is scheduled to open at the Art Gallery of NSW on November 20, 2021, and will be on display until March 13, 2022. Tickets are on sale from November 1, 2021. For more information or to book tickets, please visit the NSW Art Gallery website.

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