Henri Matisse is the subject of an intriguing exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which showcases 49 of the French master’s dynamic colored canvases.
The exhibit spotlights one of Matisse’s secret habits: his obsessive tendency to constantly reevaluate and repaint his works.
While Matisse is now widely recognized as an artistic genius, he often repeated and re-did his compositions to compare results and gauge his progress.
Matisse’s fastidious artistic process once caused his friend and rival, Spanish master Pablo Picasso, to remark:
“Matisse makes a drawing, then he makes a copy of it. He copies it five times, ten times, always clarifying the line. He’s convinced that the last, the most stripped down, is the best, the purest, the definitive one. In fact, most of the time, it was the first.”
As a result of his painstaking, methodical approach, Matisse often worked with pairs, trios, and series to ensure a smooth evolution of his artwork.
The current exhibit, entitled Matisse: In Search of True Painting, displays two of his most famous paintings: Interior in Yellow and Blue (1946) and The Red Room: Harmony in Red (1908).
Matisse, whose career spanned over five decades (culminating with his death in 1954 at age 84), is celebrated as one of the greatest painters of the 20th century.
Matisse summed up his prolific career by noting that art had sustained him–physically and emotionally.
“Why have I never been bored? Because for more than fifty years I have never ceased to work,” he said.
“Matisse: In Search of True Painting” is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from Dec. 4, 2012 to March 17, 2013.