Henri Matisses Illustrations Illuminate the Columbia Museum of Art

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Exhibition to Feature Four of the Modern Master’s Iconic Artist’s Books

On view September 15, 2017 – January 15, 2018

Columbia, S.C. – The Columbia Museum of Art proudly presents Henri Matisse: Jazz & Poetry on Paper, a sweeping exhibition that celebrates four of the artist’s books, including his iconic Jazz portfolio, on view from Friday, September 15, 2017 to Monday, January 15, 2018. Drawn from the Bank of America art collection, the exhibition features 80 framed illustrations that together offer meditations on life, love, hardship, and utter joy. 

“Henri Matisse is one of the essential European artists of the modern era,” says Lynn Robertson, CMA interim director. “As South Carolina’s only international art museum, we are thrilled to partner with Bank of America to give our community the chance to see the artist in one of his most personal and experimental genres.”

To make art accessible in the communities it serves, Bank of America converted its corporate art collection into a unique community resource known as “Art in Our Communities” from which museums and nonprofit galleries may borrow complete or customized exhibitions at no cost. By providing these exhibitions, the bank promotes community engagement and helps generate vital revenue for regional cultural venues. Since the program launched in 2008, worldwide the bank has loaned more than 120 exhibitions.

Bank of America is a leading supporter of the arts worldwide because we believe that a thriving arts and culture sector benefits economies and societies. Just in the last few years, Bank of America has given more than $2 million in support of the arts in South Carolina.” says Kim Wilkerson, South Carolina and Columbia market president, Bank of America. “We are excited to again be partnering with the Columbia Museum of Art to bring a second exhibition to Columbia through the Art in Our Communities program so that individuals and families can discover a world-renowned artist.” 

Widely regarded as one of the most important artists of the 20th century, Henri Matisse influenced a diverse number of art movements, artists, and schools of thought. Over the course of his 60-year career, the daringly modern artist experimented with a variety of mediums, producing paintings, drawings, prints, and sculpture, as well as costume and stage set designs. 

Matisse became increasingly interested in printmaking and illustrating in the 1930s. Artists’ books, conceived as art objects in their own right, provided him personal and creative renewal. He brought to life some of the greatest works of French literature—medieval chivalric poems, 19th-century symbolist works, and 20th-century riffs on ancient myths—with playfully looping gestures, elegant lines, and brightly colored shapes in a way that is always distinctly his own. Over the course of his life, Matisse created 12 illustrated books, 11 of which were widely reproduced and one of which was made exclusively for his family. The Bank of America Collection is fortunate to have four of Matisse’s important artist’s books, and these original works are featured in this exhibition:

  • Poésies de Stéphane Mallarmé (The Poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé), 1932
  • Pasiphaé—Chant de Minos (Les Crétois) (Pasiphaé—Song of Minos [The Cretans]), 1944
  • Jazz, 1947
  • Poèmes de Charles d’Orléans (Poems of Charles d’Orléans), 1950    

Matisse’s first illustrated book, Poésies de Stéphane Mallarmé (The Poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé), includes images created to accompany the works of the French poet, a key figure among the symbolist writers. The illustrations in Poésies are characterized by the use of simple, delicate lines, making them some of Matisse’s most elegant works of art.

Pasiphaé—Chant de Minos (Les Crétois) (Pasiphaé—Song of Minos [The Cretans]) retells the story of Pasiphaé, wife of King Minos, and the Minotaur. For these illustrations, Matisse used linoleum engraving to create white lines on a solid black background, suggesting ancient Greek vase paintings.

Jazz is considered one of the great illustrated books of the 20th century; Matisse created both the text and illustrations. Based largely on imagery from the circus and music halls, the vividly colored illustrations derived from Matisse’s cutouts. Although he had devised the art form years earlier, it wasn’t until the 1940s that Matisse focused on cutouts. He perfected the technique in the final years of his long career when, confined to a wheelchair and suffering from illness, he found it difficult to paint. In delightful calligraphy, Matisse expressed his thoughts on the creative process and the inspiration of music.

Published four years before his death, Poèmes de Charles d’Orléans (Poems of Charles d' Orléans) features Matisse’s fanciful, curvilinear designs and handwritten transcriptions of the ballads and verses of the late-medieval French poet Charles d’Orleans. Matisse copied poems using colored crayons with a spontaneity and freedom reminiscent of the way he used scissors in his late cutouts.

To complement Matisse’s works, the exhibition incorporates relevant objects from the CMA collection, including ancient Greek vessels, pages from a medieval book of hours, and a 19th-century bronze. Galleries devoted to Jazz and Poèmes de Charles d’Orléans each feature softly played thematic music—French swing music of World War II and Debussy’s “Trois Chansons de Charles d'Orléans,” respectively—creating an immersive experience celebrating the intersection of the arts.

“In this exhibition, I took Matisse’s books as a reason to further explore the fact that modernism was a creative hub—art, literature, dance, and music all interwove themselves playfully,” says CMA Curator Catherine Walworth. “It’s also important to remember that Matisse made these books in the 1930s and ’40s, and there are subtle but interesting layers of protest to the later works made while under the Occupation.”

Matisse regarded the prints he created for books as an extension of drawing. While the same flowing lines that characterized so many of Matisse’s paintings carried over to his illustrations, artist’s books offered distinctive constraints that informed his process. In book illustration, the goal is to establish a relationship between image and text. Visual images can be absorbed instantaneously, while the absorption of text requires slower reading and analysis. This factor makes book illustration valuable not only as an art form but also as the product of a unique combination of the written word and visual art.

Henri Matisse: Jazz & Poetry on Paper offers visitors a chance to know the artist through the literature that he held dear and the technical decisions he made while reimagining traditional art and literary forms; an opportunity to look closely at form, color, and line as well as the printmaking process; and a window into the artistic, cultural, and political history of the 20th century.

Henri Matisse: Jazz & Poetry on Paper is presented through the generosity of our sponsors and grantors. Supporting Sponsors: Susan Thorpe and John Baynes. Contributing Sponsors: Bank of America, Ginny Newell and Bob Wilkins, the Schneider Company, and Governor and Mrs. James H. Hodges. Friend Sponsors: Dr. and Mrs. C. Hardy Oliver, Dr. and Mrs. Benjamin M. Gimarc, and Walda Wildman. Additional support by Ada McIver. Grantor: Richland County. Additional support for the CMA exhibition program is provided by Lipscomb Sponsor: Mrs. Marcia Stine.

Matisse Programs and Activities:

Free and Ongoing: September 15, 2017 – January 15, 2018

  • Multimedia TAP Tour available on your computer, smartphone, or on iPads provided by the CMA.
  • Gallery Tour every Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
  • Thematic Art Explorer Backpacks

Members’ Opening Party for Henri Matisse: Jazz & Poetry on Paper
Thursday, September 14 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Lecture at 7:30 p.m.

Join us to celebrate the opening of Henri Matisse: Jazz & Poetry on Paper with an opening reception and lecture. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. Curator Catherine Walworth’s lecture Cutouts, Courtiers, and Cowboys: Henri Matisse’s Romantic Modernism starts at 7:30 p.m. The CMA Shop is open with 20% off select items. Cash bar. $5 valet parking. Individual membership admits one. All other levels admit two. Guests are $25 each. RSVP by Friday, September 8, to 803-799-2810 or columbiamuseum.org. Lecture has sold out. We will have a waiting area at the reception for those who would like to take any seating that opens up.

Cutouts, Courtiers, and Cowboys: Henri Matisse’s Romantic Modernism 
Friday, September 15 Noon

To kick off Henri Matisse: Jazz & Poetry on Paper, CMA Curator Catherine Walworth discusses the artist’s illustrated books, the subjects of which varied from the mythical Minotaur to modern French poetry. Seeing these works of art from the 1930s and ’40s that Matisse created as a printmaker, visitors discover a kaleidoscope of music, poetry, and dance that informed the artist's modernism. Free with membership or admission.

Evening for Educators
Wednesday, September 20 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.

Educators from across the state are invited to join the CMA for an evening of art, wine, and nibbles as they enjoy a lecture on Matisse and prints with USC printmaking instructor Frol Boundin. Explore the Henri Matisse: Jazz & Poetry on Paper exhibition and make connections through hands-on studio lesson plans. Attendees will also receive documentation for professional development renewal credit. Sponsored by Colonial Life. Free. Registration required as space is limited.

Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse Matinée
Thursday, September 21 2:00 p.m.

The Columbia Garden Club, in partnership with the Columbia Museum of Art, presents a matinée screening of Phil Grabsky’s documentary Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse. Long considered a space for expressing color, light, and atmosphere, the garden has occupied the creative minds of some of the world’s greatest artists. For lovers of art or lovers of gardens, this is an ideal film. Free with membership or admission. Free for Columbia Garden Club members.

Bookbinding and Marbling Workshop
September 23 and 24, 2017 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

The art in Henri Matisse: Jazz & Poetry on Paper was created for books that the artist illustrated. In that spirit, we’re devoting a class to the traditional arts of bookbinding and marbling paper. Learn different styles of binding as you create your own handmade edition. Ages 16 and up. Taught by local art educator Blakely Sheely. $90 / $72 for members.

ArtBreak: Artistic Poetry Revealed with Dr. Jeff Persels
Tuesday, September 26 Café at 10:30 a.m. Talk at 11:00 a.m.

USC’s Dr. Jeff Persels discusses the poetry in Henri Matisse: Jazz & Poetry on Paper. Persels’ research interests focus on early modern French prose and verse polemic. He teaches courses in early modern French literature and culture, French theatre, contemporary French culture and society, and European studies. From 2005 to 2013 he directed the undergraduate South Carolina European Studies Program for the Walker Institute. 

ArtBreak is a program that looks at art through a different lens. Each session features a speaker who gives insight into their worldview by sharing their interpretation of works of art at the CMA. Begin the morning at the museum at 10:30 a.m. with pastries and coffee sold at the Curiosity Coffee Bar pop-up café. Program starts at 11:00 a.m. Free with membership or admission.

Gladys’ Gang: Cut It Out!
Wednesday, October 4 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Some shapes don’t have names like squares and circles. Join us as we celebrate the art of Henri Matisse and his kooky cutouts! Get a look at the artists’ work and then cut out some creations of your own. Participants (ages 2 – 5) and their adult companions explore art through the introduction of elementary art terms such as color, line, shape, and texture during the Gladys’ Gang series. This program includes story time and a creative studio activity related to the art exploration theme. Free. Registration recommended as space is limited. Key topic: shape. 

Gladys' Gang will temporarily be offered only once a month due to museum renovations. It will return to twice a month in spring 2018.

From Malbec to Matisse: A Wine Tasting with the Alliance Française 
Thursday, November 2, 2016 Tour at 6:00 p.m. Tasting at 7:00 p.m.

Join the CMA and the Alliance Française for an evening that pairs French wines with works from the French artist extraordinaire Henri Matisse. Each wine will be paired with a work from Henri Matisse: Jazz & Poetry on Paper and explained by a local expert. At 6:00 p.m., enjoy a docent-led tour of the exhibition. Tasting starts at 7:00. Please register to reserve your spot. $15 / $10 for CMA and Alliance Française members.

Arts & Draughts
Friday, November 10 7:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Art, drink, and be happy! Enjoy beer tastings from The Whig, live musical performances, D.I.Y. art projects, interactive art, scavenger hunts, unique perspective tours of Henri Matisse: Jazz & Poetry on Paper, and more. Community partners will be on hand with more Matisse-inspired D.I.Y. activities. Cash bar. $9 / $5 for members. Want to get in free? Either join or renew your membership that night or volunteer part-time. Presented by McDaniels Subaru and Cyberwoven. Sponsored by The Whig, WXRY, Free Times, and Bob Rice Realty. 

Gladys’ Gang: All in Black and White
Wednesday, December 6 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Day and night, black and white. Matisse made works of art that were really colorful—and some that had only one or two. Join us to explore the way Matisse used color and line as we create our own monochromatic masterpieces. Participants (ages 2 – 5) and their adult companions explore art through the introduction of elementary art terms such as color, line, shape, and texture during the Gladys’ Gang series. This program includes story time and a creative studio activity related to the art exploration theme. Free. Registration required as space is limited. Key topic: Opposites.

Gladys' Gang will temporarily be offered only once a month due to museum renovations. It will return to twice a month in spring of 2018.

Passport to Art: Matisse Motifs 
Sunday, December 10 Noon – 3:00 p.m.

This month we’re exploring shape and pattern! Join us and create your own visual poetry and take a 1:00 p.m. tour of Henri Matisse: Jazz & Poetry on Paper to see what kinds of shapes the artist used in his work. This drop-in program for families features a new hands-on art project each month. Free.

Ikebana Flower Arrangement Demonstration
Sunday, January 7, 2018 Noon – 4:00 p.m.

Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement that combines nature with an artistic touch. The local Ikebana Chapter 182 is on hand to display their arrangements inspired by pieces in Henri Matisse: Jazz & Poetry on Paper. Free.


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