Henri Matisse was a painter of vivid colors. From 1913 to 1917, however, he radically changed his style and palette. Collaborators from Northwestern University and The Art Institute of Chicago bring this home with a fascinating scientific deconstruction of Matisse's famous painting "Bathers by a River." The artist had tamped down earlier layers of pinks, greens and blues into a somber palette of mottled grays punctuated with some pinks and greens.
"Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917," opening July 18 at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and recently on exhibit at the Art Institute, focuses on this critical period of experimentation and is much inspired by "Bathers by a River," which the artist said was one of the five most pivotal works of his career. In reworking this painting and many others, Matisse left a bounty of tantalizing clues for art historians and conservation scientists interested in learning more about his new methods and intentions.
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