“The Red Studio” has been hanging in the New York Museum of Modern Art since 1949
The Red Studio has been hanging in the New York Museum of Modern Art since 1949. This key work by Matisse is now the focus of an exhibition in Copenhagen. For good reason. In 1909, Henri Matisse and his family moved to the suburbs of Paris to escape the hustle and bustle of the capital. The Wilhelmine villa at Issy-les-Moulineaux, surrounded by a park, became the center of his life. Here, his wife Amelie could plant flowers as they pleased and the children Marguerite, Jean and Pierre could play. In the neighboring grove, the artist managed to realize his dream – a studio in the country.
A path flanked by flowerbeds and cypresses soon led to the prefabricated building, built with a lot of wood but adapted to his own wishes, where Matisse was able to work in peace from then on, mainly on paintings and sculptures. This included things he had started, which he had brought back from Paris, and commissions, for example, from Hugo von Tchody, director of the Neue Pinakothek in Munich, and Sergei Shchukin, a collector in Moscow.
What these clients did not suspect: the images assigned to them would not only give new vitality to the new working conditions, but would also expressively portray the new studio.
Tightrope walking in Venetian Red
This includes an image measuring 180 by 220 cm, which Matisse covered in 1911 Venetian red: “L’Atelier rouge”. As a tightrope between the perception of space and the illusion of perspective, figuration and abstraction, as well as the richness of the palette and monochrome, he was probably way ahead of his time. Since, contrary to expectations, Shchukin could not warm up to the portrait intended for him, and no other interested parties were found for a long time, he arrived in London only in 1927.
Here he served as a decoration in the dining room and salon. ball at the Gargoyle Club, an elegant venue by day and a sophisticated nightclub late at night. Eventually, the image was acquired – with some reluctance – by the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1949, where it quickly fascinated the public and the artists, who at the time were in a fever of painting.
Since then, the Museum of Modern Art has long accorded the image the status of a great work of the 20th century and recently dedicated the exhibition “Matisse: The Red Studio” to it. This show has now arrived as Matisse: Det røde atelier at the Statens Museum in Copenhagen – the Danish National Gallery – which she co-produced.
This second stop is not by chance: on the one hand, one of the largest Matisse collections in the world can be found here, as witnessed by the permanent collection of the house, and on the other hand, some works associated with the “Red Studio” , those “pictures in picture”. , which can be viewed on a large-format screen. By copying older and more recent works for “L’Atelier rouge”, Matisse illustrated aspects of his work and its development. To do this, he creates a veritable gathering of work samples, so to speak, at an exhibition.
Don’t be afraid of cyclamen with a pink background
In Copenhagen one now enters, without the slightest preliminary banter, a spacious hall in which “L’Atelier rouge” is emblazoned like an altarpiece in the middle. The composition is flanked by partition walls fanning out at an angle, on which six of the seven paintings cited (one work is destroyed) are placed. In addition, there are the three cited plastics, including a terracotta exhibited for the first time, the image of which is entwined with nasturtiums in the “Red Studio”, and the ceramic that documents the temporary collaboration with the ceramist André Metthey at the bottom of the picture.
Just as Matisse indicated alignments of the studio corner and its furniture in the “Red Studio” with a few contours created by recesses, he reduced the quotations to essential features, but allowed them to be identified. The oldest work, leaning against a picture frame, shows a landscape from Corsica, which is now on loan from the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne.
It stands for the key experience that gave him Mediterranean light and color during his honeymoon in 1898. He painted other pictures, such as the depiction of a fisherman boy posing on a chair, on the beach and at the harbor in Collioure, also a place on the Mediterranean that was important to the artist for his development, while the cyclamen still life was created in Issy.