Matisse – Bonnard. “Long Live Painting”

13 SEPTEMBER 2017 TO 14 JANUARY 2018
Press preview: Tuesday, 12 September 2017, 11 am

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Press release

From 13 September 2017 to 14 January 2018, the Städel Museum in Frankfurt will be presenting two outstanding artists – Henri Matisse (1869–1954) and Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947) – in an exhibition that is the first in Germany to bring these key modernist masters together. At the heart of the special exhibition “Matisse – Bonnard. ‘Long Live Painting!’” is the friendship between the two French artists which lasted for over forty years. Both painters shared a preference for the same range of subjects: interiors, still lifes, landscapes and the female nude. With a selection of more than 120 paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints, the exhibition opens a dialogue between Matisse and Bonnard and offers new perspectives on the development of the European avant-garde from the beginning of the twentieth century to the end of the Second World War. The selection of works is enriched by a series of photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson, who visited the two painters in their country houses on the French Riviera in 1944.

For this year’s major autumn show, the Städel has been able to secure a wide range of outstanding loans from internationally renowned collections, among them the Art Institute of Chicago, Tate Modern in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Pompidou and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the State Hermitage in Saint Petersburg and the National Gallery of Art in Washington. Also on display will be a host of major works from private collections, which are not normally accessible to the public. An absolute highlight among these are the two paintings which the artists owned from one another: Pierre Bonnard’s Evening in the Living Room (1907, private collection) and Henri Matisse’s The Open Window (1911, private collection). They are being shown together for the first time here in Frankfurt. Another exhibition highlight is Matisse’s Large Reclining Nude of 1935, on loan from the Baltimore Museum of Art, which has not been seen in Germany for more than thirty years. This iconic nude was a milestone on the artist’s journey towards an aesthetic of highly simplified forms and shows his studio assistant and last important model, Lydia Delectorskaya. It is very likely that the painting was inspired by Bonnard’s Reclining Nude against a White and Blue Plaid (ca. 1909), which it closely resembles in composition, and which has been in the collection of the Städel Museum since 1988. The opportunity to show these two paintings in dialogue was key to the planning of this project.

The exhibition is sponsored by the multinational bank Société Générale and supported by the Städelscher Museums-Verein as well as the Georg and Franziska Speyer Foundation.

“Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard are represented in our collection by two marvellous paintings: a nude by Bonnard and a still life by Matisse,” says Philipp Demandt, Director of the Städel Museum. “Taking these two paintings as the starting point, our main exhibition for this year reveals a visual interplay between these two artists, whose influence on each other becomes unmistakable when their works are seen side by side. The exhibition continues the Städel’s successful series, where we present our visitors not only with unique masterpieces but also with new and fresh perspectives on the major protagonists of modern art.”

The exhibition has been curated by Felix Krämer, who will be taking up the post of Director at the Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf from October, and co-curator Daniel Zamani (Städel Museum). “Following the exhibition 'Monet and the Birth of Impressionism' (2015), the Städel Museum is turning to another exciting chapter in the history of French art: the friendship between Henri Matisse and Pierre Bonnard, which lasted over 40 years,” explains Krämer. “The exhibition brings out the creative dialogue between these two exceptional artists. It has been a long time since so many of their major works have been seen in Germany.” As Zamani points out, “Both artists developed an unmistakable and individual pictorial language, driven by their unremitting dedication to their work and life-long delight in experimentation. Even during their own lifetime Matisse and Bonnard were seen as two of the most important pioneers of modern art. With Bonnard’s paintings, in particular, it is only when you come face to face with the originals that you become aware of their full fascination. It is worth visiting the Städel just for that.”

The title of the exhibition, Long Live Painting!, is based on the programmatic exclamation “Vive la peinture!” with which Matisse saluted his friend Bonnard on 13 August 1925. Those three words on a postcard from Amsterdam were the beginning of a correspondence that went on for more than twenty years and that testifies to the depth of the respect and appreciation the two artists felt for each other. In the first decade of the twentieth century, both artists left Paris, then the capital of the avant-garde, for the Côte d’Azur, where they continued to cement their reputation as protagonists of the European art scene. Despite the near-contiguity of their lives and careers, art historians tend to correlate the two artists with opposing trends: Bonnard’s breezy, loose brushwork and scintillating soft pastels give rise to the construct of the painter as the last great heir of Impressionism, while Matisse’s preference for strong colours and flat, heavily contoured compositions earn him the accolade of being named a pioneer of twentieth-century abstraction.

In thematic chapters, the exhibition focuses on different interpretations of major genres: interiors, still lifes, landscapes and nudes. The aim of presenting Matisse and Bonnard together is to allow comparative contemplation, to create a space in which commonalities and differences emerge – but not to engender any kind of competition. Such a thing would be quite at odds with the relationship between the two artists. “When I think of you, I think of a mind cleansed of every old aesthetic convention, and it is that alone that permits a direct view of nature, the greatest joy that can befall a painter. I enjoy a little of that, thanks to you” wrote Bonnard to Matisse in January 1940. The value which the latter attached to the judgement of his friend is documented in a letter of November of the same year: “I need to see someone, and you’re the one I want to see.” Matisse did not want to discuss his pictures with anyone else. Seldom have two artists complemented one another so well.

Exhibition tour
The exhibition extends over two floors and is arranged around a series of different artistic themes: interiors, landscapes/nature, still lifes and women/the nude. An introductory section, occupying the first rooms on the ground floor of the exhibition, is devoted to the friendship between the two artists, featuring portraits by the photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, self-portraits, and the two works painted by one artist and owned by the other.

The following rooms are devoted to interiors and, in particular, to the motif of the window, where the close exchange of ideas between the two artist-friends is strikingly apparent. Among the outstanding works here are Bonnard’s paintings The Bowl of Milk (ca. 1919) and The Window (1925), both from the Tate Modern in London, and Matisse’s Large Red Interior (1948), one of his last iconic works in oil, which is on loan from the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The last room on the ground floor is devoted to the letters exchanged between the two artists, a selection of which can be heard in dramatised readings, and all of which can be digitally viewed.

Upstairs, the exhibition continues with the theme of landscape and nature, in which the lifelong fascination of both artists with the light and atmosphere of the French Riviera plays an important role. Here, a highlight of the exhibition is Bonnard’s The Sun-Filled Terrace (1939–1946, private collection). The painting is unusual because of its extremely horizontal format. It shows a terrace, on either side of which a garden landscape stretches away in vibrant, almost pink tones. While many of Bonnard’s late works depict views taken straight from the surroundings of his home at Le Bosquet, this large-scale work has the feeling of a timeless idyll. Matisse was deeply impressed when he saw the as yet unfinished composition in his friend’s studio. In January 1940 he wrote to him: “Your work is still clear in my memory, in all its details. Never before has it seemed to me so complete, and I can still picture quite distinctly the decorative passage with the rose branches. I like it very much.”

Another theme in which the dialogue between the two painters is reflected is still life. Like few other artists of their generation Bonnard and Matisse harboured a lifelong fascination with this centuries-old genre. Taking inspiration from predecessors such as Jean Siméon Chardin and Paul Cézanne, they aimed to release it from a naturalistic depiction of everyday objects and instead used it as a starting point for radical artistic experimentation with colour and form. The works on show here include Matisse’s still life from the Städel Museum, Flowers and Ceramic Plate (1913) – an early masterpiece and a firm favourite of visitors to the collection – and Bonnard’s luminous Bouquet of Mimosas (ca. 1945, private collection), which makes a perfect pendant to it. As in many paintings in Bonnard’s late, almost abstract style, paint itself seems to be the real subject of the composition, in which the thickly applied hues of yellow and orange blend the vibrantly glowing flowers with the surrounding interior.

In their approaches to the female nude, both artists developed their respective “signature paintings": Bonnard’s were sensuous nudes in baths or boudoirs, while Matisse’s were dreamlike odalisques, women of the harem in exotic settings. Bonnard’s model is typically his wife, Marthe, whom he immortalised in almost 400 paintings over a period of more than 50 years and whom he continued to paint even after her death. Her perpetually youthful body appears again and again in oneiric bathing pictures, permeated with a dreamlike and often disconcerting atmosphere of mystery. Matisse’s odalisques are completely different in tone – works of intimate theatricality, full of shimmering colour, where figure and interior are meshed together in vividly ornamental compositions that give vibrant expression to the artist’s vision of an art of perfect harmony.
The exhibition also allows insight into the creative process behind one of Matisse’s masterpieces, Large Reclining Nude. Using a camera, the artist documented the development of the painting from May to October 1935. In a total of 22 black-and-white photographs, we can see how he gradually reworked essential elements of the composition, continually simplifying it and making it and rendering its elements more planar. This work is also one of the very first oil paintings where Matisse used cut-out stripes of paper as aids to composition – a technique which was to become decisive for his late work and which completely superseded his painting on canvas after 1948. Perhaps the best-known work to have been created using these so-called “cut-outs” is Matisse’s artist’s book Jazz (1947), devoted to the brightly-coloured world of the circus, clowns, and the theatre, which is also on display in the exhibition.

MATISSE – BONNARD. “LONG LIVE PAINTING!”
GENERAL INFORMATION

Exhibition duration: 13 September 2017 to 14 January 2018
Curator: Dr. Felix Krämer (Head of Modern Art, Städel Museum)
Co-curator: Dr. Daniel Zamani (Assistant Curator of Modern Art, Städel Museum)
Press preview: Tuesday, 12 September 2017, 11 am

Information: www.staedelmuseum.de, info@staedelmuseum.de,
telephone +49(0)69-605098-200, fax +49(0)69-605098-112
Visitor services: telephone +49(0)69-605098-232, email besucherdienst@staedelmuseum.de
Location: Städel Museum, Schaumainkai 63, 60596 Frankfurt am Main

Opening hours: Tue, Wed, Sat, Sun & public holidays: 10 am–6 pm, Thurs & Fri: 10 am–9 pm, Mon: closed
Special opening hours: Tue, 3.10.; Tue, 31.10.; Mon 25.12; Tue 26.12; Mon 8.1.2018: 10 am–6 pm; Mon, 1.1.2018: 11 am–6 pm; closed: Sun 24.12.; Sun. 31.12.

Admission: €14; concessions: €12; Sat, Sun, public holidays: €16, concessions: €14; family ticket: €24; free entry for children under 12; groups of more than 10 regular-admission paying people: reduced per person rate. Groups must give notice of visit in advance by calling +49 (0)69-605098-200 or emailing info@staedelmuseum.de.
Members of the Städelscher Museums-Verein enjoy free admission to the special exhibition.

Introductory tours of the exhibition: Tue 3 pm, Wed 1 pm, Thurs 6 pm, Fri 7 pm, Sat 4 pm and Sun 12 pm. On all public holidays (3.10., 31.10., 25.12, 26.12., 1.1.) as well as on 8.1. the tours take place at 4 pm. Places are limited. Tickets for the tours are available from the ticket desk, two hours before the tour is due to commence, priced €5. A portion of tickets for the introductory tours is available via our relaunched online ticketshop; the price of admission is combined in the special price of €18, to book, go to: tickets.staedelmuseum.de.

Catalogue: Accompanying the exhibition, a catalogue with 240 pages and 208 colour illustrations will be published by Prestel. It will include contributions by Dita Amory, Jenny Graser, Margrit Hahnloser-Ingold, Iris Hasler, Felix Krämer, Elena Schroll, Beate Söntgen, and Daniel Zamani. German edition/English edition, €39.90 (museum edition).
Accompanying booklet: a booklet to accompany the exhibition is available in German, price €7.50.

Audiotour and Städel App: An audiotour to the exhibition is available in German and English. The German guide is voiced by the actress Sophie Rois. One audiotour costs €4, two audiotours cost €7. As well as renting the audio equipment at the exhibition, you can download the audiotour conveniently at home with the Städel App. The app is available for free from Google Play and the Apple App Store and downloading the audioguide to current IOS and Android smartphones costs €1: http://www.staedelmuseum.de/de/angebote/staedel-app. The audioguide is supported by the Georg and Franziska Speyer Foundation.

Digitorial: The Digitorial has been made possible by the Aventis Foundation. It can be downloaded at: matissebonnard.staedelmuseum.de.

Social Media: The Städel Museum posts updates on the exhibition on social-media platforms using the hashtags #MatisseBonnard and #Staedel.

Exhibition sponsors and partners

Sponsored by: Société Générale, Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.
With additional support from: Georg und Franziska Speyer’sche Hochschulstiftung
Media partners: Süddeutsche Zeitung, Media Frankfurt, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, ARTE, WirtschaftsWoche
Cultural partner: hr2-kultur


Press images

Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908 –2004)
Henri Matisse at home in southern France, Vence, 1944
© Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos, Courtesy Fondation HCB / Agentur Focus
Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908 –2004), Henri Matisse at home in southern France, Vence, 1944

Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908 –2004)
Pierre Bonnard at home in southern France, Le Cannet, 1944
© Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos, Courtesy Fondation HCB / Agentur Focus
Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908 –2004), Pierre Bonnard at home in southern France, Le Cannet, 1944

Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954)
Odalisque with a Tambourine, 1925/26
Oil on canvas, 74,3 x 55,6 cm
The Museum of Modern Art, New York /
© Succession H. Matisse / VG Bild-Kunst
Bonn 2017 / Photo: 2017. Digital Image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York / Scala, Florenz

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954), Odalisque with a Tambourine, 1925/26

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
Nude at the Mirror, 1931
Oil on canvas, 152 x 102 cm
Photo Archive - Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017 / Photo: Claudio Franzini

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Nude at the Mirror, 1931

Pierre Bonnard (1869–1954)
Woman Leaving the Bath, ca. 1925
Oil on canvas, 110 x 94.9 cm
Jeff & Mei Sze Greene Collection
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017
Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Pierre Bonnard (1869–1954), Woman Leaving the Bath, ca. 1925

Henri Matisse (1869–1954)
Asia, 1946
Oil on canvas, 116,2 x 81,3 cm
Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas
© Succession H. Matisse / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Henri Matisse (1869–1954), Asia, 1946

Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954)
Odalisques, 1928
Oil on canvas, 54 x 65 cm
Moderna Museet, Stockholm
© Succession H. Matisse / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017 / Photo: Moderna Museet, Stockholm

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954), Odalisques, 1928

Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954)
The Gulf of Saint-Tropez, 1904
Oil on canvas, 65 x 50,5 cm
Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf
Photo: Walter Klein, Düsseldorf
© Succession H. Matisse / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954), The Gulf of Saint-Tropez, 1904

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
Terrace in the South of France, 1925
Öl auf Leinwand, 78 x 63 cm
Collection Fondation Glénat, Grenoble
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Terrace in the South of France, 1925

Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947)
The Sun-Filled Terrace,1939–1946
Oil on canvas, 71 x 236 cm
Private collection
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947), The Sun-Filled Terrace,1939–1946

Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954)
Trivaux Pond,1916/17
Oil on canvas, 92,7 x 74,3 cm
Tate, London 2017
© Succession H. Matisse / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017 / Photo: Tate, London 2017

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954), Trivaux Pond,1916/17

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
The Family in the Garden (Grand-Lemps), ca. 1901
Oil on canvas, 109,5 x 127,5 cm
Kunsthaus Zürich
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), The Family in the Garden (Grand-Lemps)

Henri Matisse (1869–1954)
Still Life with „The Dance“, 1909
Oil on canvas, 89,5 x 117,5 cm
The State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg
© Succession H. Matisse / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016 / Photo: Vladimir Terebenin

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Henri Matisse (1869–1954), Still Life with „The Dance“, 1909

Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947)
The Bowl of Fruit, 1914
Oil on canvas, 46 x 37.5 cm
Private collection
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947), The Bowl of Fruit, 1914

Henri Matisse, (1869 – 1954)
Flowers and Ceramic Plate, 1913
Oil on canvas
93.5 x 82.5 cm
Städel Museum, Frankfurt am Main
© Succession H. Matisse / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Henri Matisse, (1869 – 1954), Flowers and Ceramic Plate, 1913

Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947)
Bouquet of Mimosas, ca. 1945
Oil on canvas, 62 x 68 cm
Private collection
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947), Bouquet of Mimosas, ca. 1945

Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947)
Evening in the living room, 1907
Oil on canvas, 42,5 x 73,4 cm
Private collection
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947), Evening in the living room, 1907

Henri Matisse (1869–1954)
The Open Window, 1911
Oil on canvas, 72,7 x 60,3 cm
Private collection
© Succession H. Matisse / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Henri Matisse (1869–1954), The Open Window, 1911

Henri Matisse (1869–1954)
Women with Sofa or The Diwan, 1921
Oil on canvas, 92 x 73 cm
Musée de lʼOrangerie, Paris, Sammlung Jean Walter und Paul Guillaume
© Succession H. Matisse / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Henri Matisse (1869–1954), Women with Sofa or The Diwan, 1921

Pierre Bonnard (1867 – 1947)
The Bowl of Milk, ca. 1919
Oil on canvas, 116,2 x 121,0 cm
Tate, London 2017
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017 / Photo: Tate, London 2017

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Pierre Bonnard (1867 – 1947), The Bowl of Milk, ca. 1919

Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954)
Nice, Black Notebook, 1918
Oil on canvas, 71 x 236 cm
Hahnloser/Jaeggli Stiftung, Kunstmuseum Bern
© Succession H. Matisse / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954), Nice, Black Notebook, 1918

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
The Window, 1925
Oil on canvas, 108,6 x 88,6 cm
Tate, London
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017 / Photo: Tate, London 2017

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), The Window, 1925

Henri Matisse (1869–1954)
Selfportrait, 1906
Oil on canvas, 55 x 46 cm
Statens Museum for Kunst, Kopenhagen
© Succession H. Matisse / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017 / Photo: SMK

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Henri Matisse (1869–1954) Selfportrait, 1906

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947)
Selfportrait, 1930
Pencil and watercolor on paper, 65 x 50 cm
Private Collection
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) Selfportrait, 1930

Henri Matisse (1869–1954)
Large Reclining Nude, 1935
Oil on canvas, 66.4 x 93.3 cm
Baltimore Museum of Art
© Succession H. Matisse / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Henri Matisse (1869–1954) Large Reclining Nude, 1935

Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947)
Reclining Nude against a White and Blue Plaid, around 1909
Oil on canvas, 60 x 65 cm
Städel Museum, Frankfurt,
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017
Property of the Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.

Please note that the image may not be trimmed or modified in terms of colours. Thank you!

Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947), Reclining Nude against a White and Blue Plaid, around 1909
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Dates

12 Sep. 2017, 11.00 am
Press preview "Matisse – Bonnard. 'Long live painting!'"
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