The Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale and Contemporary & Modern Print Exhibitions have curated proof of Matisse’s paternity to modern art with a presentation of 63 illustrations, rendered by Henri Matisse (1869-1954) in response to the works of French poets Pierre Ronsard (1524-1585) and Stephane Mallarme (1842-1898).
Matisse’s dream — ”an art of balance, of purity and serenity — becomes manifested in this exhibition of his late work, which was the result of his pioneering in the graphic arts of etching and lithography and a leaning toward “minimalism,” a clean and economical use of line, color and subject matter. The prolific body of work presented is impressive considering that the artist was disabled for the last 15 years of his life.
This melding between Matisse and the French poets came about as the result of commissions by Albert Skira, a 20th-century Swiss publisher who first invited Matisse to produce illustrations related to the poetry of Mallarme, culminating as a “Livre d’artiste” (artist book in French) titled “Poesies.” As his last major project, Matisse requested to produce with Skira the “Florilege Des Amours De Ronsard,” a collection of love poems illustrated and assembled in book form. The exhibition figuratively pulls the books apart, and presents the illustrations framed and hung, with attendant information plaques on the relative poetry, authors and background.