Interior with Phonograph. 1924. Oil on canvas. Private collection.
Most of you are probably familiar with the work of famed French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954). Perhaps you had a poster of his “Dance” on your college dorm room wall (I know I did) or better yet, had a chance to see it in person at the MOMA in New York. What you may not know, however, is that Matisse also painted countless stunning interiors. Using his revolutionary trademark bright colors the great Fauve master filled his canvases with intricate patterns on textiles, wallpapers, ceramics, floors and carpets. Many contain a distinctly Moorish influence. In my research I’ve learned that Matisse in fact collected Islamic objects and used them in all stylistic periods of his career. He was fascinated by the Far East and was said to have “orientalized and romanticized” the interiors he so often painted in Nice, France. Having lived during rather tumultuous times (two world wars among other things) he set about creating visions of paradise. His rival Pablo Picasso once said Matisse had “sun in his belly,” a fine description indeed. As you’ll find below Matisse often painted his own studio as a sort of exotic, flowering Eden—heaven on earth. I dream of someday having my own textile line so I can create an entire collection inspired by his use of color and pattern!
The Window. 1916. Oil on canvas. The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, USA.
Decorative Figure on an Ornamental Background. 1925-26. Oil on canvas. Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France.
Interior in Aubergines. 1911-12. Gouache on canvas. Musée de Peinture et de Sculpture, Grenoble, France.
Moorish Screen. 1917-21. Oil on canvas. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Young Girl in a Green Dress. 1921. Oil on canvas. Private collection.
The Painter’s Family. 1911. Oil on canvas. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Studio, Quay of Saint-Michel. 1916. Oil on canvas. Private collection.
Interior with a Violin Case. 1918/19. Oil on canvas. The Museum of Modern Arts, New York, NY, USA.
(All images courtesy of Olga’s Gallery)