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Exhibitions/ Matisse: The Fabric of Dreams

Matisse: The Fabric of Dreams: His Art and His Textiles

June 23–September 25, 2005

Exhibition Overview

This is the first exhibition to explore Henri Matisse's (1869–1954) lifelong fascination with textiles and its profound impact on his art. It features forty-five painted works and thirty-one drawings and prints displayed alongside examples from Matisse's personal collection of fabrics, costumes, and carpets. The exhibition marks the first public showing of Matisse's textile collection—referred to by the artist as his "working library"—which has been packed away in family trunks since Matisse's death in 1954.

Among the many highlights are such celebrated paintings as Still Life with Blue Tablecloth (1909, The State Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg), Seated Odalisque (1926, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), Woman in Blue (1937, Philadelphia Museum of Art), Purple Robe and Anemones (1937, The Baltimore Museum of Art), and The Dream (1940, private collection). The selection of approximately thirty-five textiles ranges from a fragment of resist-dyed cotton purchased at a flea market to Parisian couture gowns, African wall hangings, and Turkish robes.

For generations, Matisse's family had been involved in the textile industry in northeastern France. He had an innate appreciation of textiles and was an avid collector of fabrics, from his days as a poor art student in Paris to the latter years of his life, when his Nice studio overflowed with exotic costumes and wall hangings. Used traditionally at first, as mere background elements in his compositions, textiles soon became the springboard for his radical experiments with perspective and an art based on decorative patterning and pure harmonies of color and line.

The exhibition is made possible by The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation and the Janice H. Levin Fund.

Additional support has been provided by The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation and the Gail and Parker Gilbert Fund.

Education programs are made possible by The Georges Lurcy Charitable and Educational Trust.

The exhibition was organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Royal Academy of Arts, London; and Le Musée Matisse, Le Cateau-Cambrésis.

An indemnity has been granted by the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.