Towards the end of his life, Henri Matisse was too crippled to paint. So he began to cut out shapes from gouache-coated papers and assemble them into large collages. With the help of assistants, Matisse was able to continue working with radiant colors and exuberant patterns until his last days.
Ivy in Flower (1952) is Matisse’s full-size paper model for a stained-glass window. As you might imagine, Ivy is extremely light-sensitive, which is why the Dallas Museum of Art generally doesn’t display it. It’s been installed in the DMA’s Concourse through Dec. 11, a rare opportunity to see it.
Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, © Succession H. Matisse, Paris/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
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Dallas, TX, June 9, 2011 — In 1952 Henri Matisse was asked to create a stained-glass window for the mausoleum of art collector Albert Lasker, and he took on the project with enthusiasm. His full-scale maquette was made with shapes cut out of painted paper and arranged with the help of assistants. This technique allowed the elderly Matisse to remain productive as an artist in his final years, when he was no longer able to paint. Ivy in Flower is one of the most joyous and exuberant of the large cutout works he made at the end of his life.
“Ivy in Flower is one of the first true masterpieces of European modernism to enter the Museum’s collection,” said Heather MacDonald, The Lillian and James H. Clark Associate Curator of European Art. “It is an exceptionally beautiful example of Matisse’s late passion for the cutout, which was the central medium for the last decade of his career. It’s both strikingly graphic and incredibly lyrical, a work that has an immediate impact but is subtle enough to invite a long look.” Matisse described the maquette in a letter to his son: “I really think it is very beautiful. It has a new harmony.”
Rarely on view because it is a light-sensitive work on paper, Matisse’s beloved Ivy in Flower is installed in the Concourse through December 11, 2011.
Afterlife: The Story of Henri Matisse’s Ivy in Flower is organized by the Dallas Museum of Art and curated by Dr. MacDonald, who will discuss the installation in a gallery talk on June 15 at 12:15p.m. Additional programs will be scheduled while the work of art is on view. For dates and details, visit DallasMuseumofArt.org.