After Matisse

  • Gary Bower, After Matisse's Nasturtiums and the Dance, 1982. Courtesy of the Edward Thorp Gallery, New York.

  • Jennifer Bartlett, In the Garden #10, 1980. Collection of Rose and Morton Landowne.

  • After Matisse, installation view at Bass Museum of Art. Miami Beach, Florida,1987.

  • Adja Yunkers, Homage to the Monks of Saigon, 1965-67. Collection of Clara Diament Sujo.

  • Milton Avery, Three Friends, 1944. Collection of Neuberger Museum, State University of New York at Purchase.

  • After Matisse, installation view at Bass Museum of Art. Miami Beach, Florida,1987.

Curated by Tiffany Bell

It is impossible to discuss contemporary art without making reference to modern art. Indeed, modern art is not just the foundation of contemporary art, as many contemporary artists are still responding to modern artists today. The work of Matisse has been a major influence and of continuing interest to American artists since the first part of the 20th century. His exposure was early and constant: Alfred Stieglitz first showed Matisse’s drawings, lithographs, watercolors, and etchings in the Little Galleries of the Photo Secession in 1908, and followed that initial exhibition with one of drawings and photographs of paintings in 1910; in 1912, Stieglitz presented Matisse’s sculptures. The Red Studio was also exhibited at the celebrated Armory Show in 1913. Other New York exhibitions followed in 1915 and 1927, and again in 1931, when Alfred Barr organized a major Matisse retrospective, this time at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; a portion of this exhibition then traveled to ten major museums throughout the country.


Following the early exposure at Stieglitz’s gallery in New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art acquired work by Matisse; at the Museum of Modern Art, Matisse’s work has now been prominently featured for almost fifty years, and many other American museums have long since placed his work on permanent exhibition. Furthermore, there were many exhibitions of Matisse in this country during the 1950’s and 1960’s. As a result, generations of American artists and art students have had direct and intimate access to the art of Matisse, an art of particular appeal to American modernists and to American artists today, imbued as it is with light and spiritual breadth, while simultaneously addressing issues of reductive formalism.


The significance of Matisse definitely cannot be understated, and there was a particular time in the 1980’s during which his influence was revived. Experimentation with color and the non-representational, as well as the uncoordinated swathes that exemplify his style can be seen in a variety of work, from Mark Rothko to Roy Lichtenstein. After Matisse explores the story of his resurrection. Why did Matisse emerge so clearly and intentionally in the 1980’s? How did he emerge? What can this tell us about contemporary art in the 1980’s and of Matisse himself?

—Excerpt from catalogue introduction by Susan Sollins, 1986.


Accompanying the exhibition is an illustrated catalogue with essays by Dore Ashton, Tiffany Bell, and Irving Sandler. Please click here or visit our shop for more information.



Tiffany Bell

Tiffany Bell is Editor of the Agnes Martin Catalogue Raisonné and a co-curator of the upcoming Martin retrospective that will travel to several major museums beginning in 2015. Before taking her current position, she was the director of the Dan Flavin Catalogue Raisonné project, which resulted in the publication of Dan Flavin: The Complete Lights, 1961-1996 (Dia and Yale University Press: 2004), and served as curator for several museum and gallery exhibitions of Flavin’s lights. From 1990 to 1999, as adjunct professor, she taught a senior seminar in the art department at Pratt Institute. She has worked for many years as a freelance curator and art critic with articles appearing in Art in America, Arts Magazine, and Artforum, among other publications. She holds an MA in art history from Columbia University and a BA in art history from Princeton University.


touring schedule

Worcester Art Museum
Worcester, MA, United States
December 12, 1987 - February 7, 1988

Dayton Art Institute
Dayton, OH, United States
September 12, 1987 - November 8, 1987

The Phillips Collection
Washington, DC, United States
June 20, 1987 - August 16, 1987

Bass Museum of Art
Maimi Beach, FL, United States
March 17, 1987 - May 17, 1987

Portland Museum of Art
Portland, ME, United States
December 9, 1986 - February 9, 1987

The Chrysler Museum
Norfolk, VA, United States
September 11, 1986 - November 9, 1986

The Queens Museum
Flushing, NY, United States
April 28, 1984 - June 10, 1984

NEW YORK, NY 10013
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