Matisse and Modigilani in Philly

Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954) lived a long and fruitful life as an artist. Amadeo Modigliani (Italian, 1884–1920) did not. Wracked by illness as a child and poverty–and substance abuse–as an adult, he died of tubercular meningitis long before being recognized as a central figure to Modern art. His lover commit suicide the next day, jumping from a window. She was pregnant with their child.

Both titans of the 20th century share space in Philly, Modigilani at the Barnes Foundation and Matisse at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Woman in Blue
Woman in Blue, 1937, by Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954), 1956-23-1. © 2022 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

“Modigliani Up Close” (October 16–January 29, 2023) features nearly 50 works from major collections, presenting paintings and sculptures alongside new findings that have resulted from the technical research of collaborating conservators, conservation scientists and curators. Using analytical techniques, including X-radiography, infrared reflectography, and X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF), previously unknown aspects of Modigliani’s work has been revealed. Visitors will feel closer to Modigliani as an artist, seeing his work through the eyes of the experts, catching glimpses of the artist’s hand hidden beneath the surfaces of his work.

This exhibition holds a special significance at the Barnes, as Dr. Albert C. Barnes was one of Modigliani’s earliest collectors in the United States and helped shape the artist’s critical reception in this country. In addition to works on paper, there are 12 significant paintings and one carved stone sculpture by Modigliani in the Barnes collection. With 12 paintings each, the Barnes and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, have the largest collections of Modigliani paintings in the world.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art, in collaboration with the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris and the Musée Matisse Nice, presents the first exhibition ever dedicated to the pivotal decade of the 1930s in the art of Matisse. Opening first in Philadelphia, “Matisse in the 1930s” (October 19–January 29, 2023) displays more than 100 works ranging from renowned and rarely seen paintings and sculptures, to drawings and prints, to illustrated books.

Large Reclining Nude
Large Reclining Nude, 1935, by Henri Matisse (Baltimore Museum of Art: The Cone Collection, formed by Dr. Claribel Cone and Miss Etta Cone of Baltimore, Maryland, 1950.258) © 2022 Succession H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

“Matisse in the 1930s” explores the remarkable changes in style that followed as Matisse discovered different ways of working across the mediums of easel and decorative painting, sculpture, printmaking, drawing and the illustrated book.

Visitors to the show may need to cross a picket line to see it. Unionized employees at the museum are striking over a variety of workplace concerns.

Oct 20, 2022 – Jan 29, 2023
2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway Philadelphia

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