Exhibition: Matisse in the Studio


Delve into the working studio of Henri Matisse, with London’s Royal Academy of Arts’ intimate exploration of the artist’s most treasured personal objects, and their important role in his work.

It is said that a home can reveal a lot about those who live in it, and at the Royal Academy’s autumn exhibition Matisse in the Studio, this notion is certainly proven to be true. Spanning over his lifetime, the exhibition brings together furniture collated from Matisse’s homes and artefacts from exotic holidays from far-flung corners of the world. A buddhist statue from Thailand and Bamana figures from Mali sit alongside North African furniture and textiles that were once thoughtfully grouped together in Matisse’s home, now are shown precisely curated in the company of Matisse’s large and expansive body of artwork.

In 1951, Matisse said: “A good actor can have a part in ten different plays; an object can play a role in ten different pictures.” This collection of everyday objects offered Matisse a constant source of inspiration, appearing in his artwork time and again but reinvented afresh in each new painting. Once just an everyday household object, these fallible personal objects now live on, captured for eternity in his artwork.

While a handpainted blue and yellow guéridon table from Algeria, which makes an appearance in the vibrant 1937 painting Yellow Odalisque, is certainly a highlight, the best of the exhibition is left ‘til last. In the final room, a sinuous Chinese calligraphic panel is shown to inform Henri Matisse’s famed abstracted coloured cut-outs, perhaps his most recognisable and prolific body of work. Seen together, the relationship of object and art brings to life the incredible vision of Henri Matisse, wonderfully rich and energetic work. 

Matisse in the Studio runs until 12th November at London’s Royal Academy of Arts. Buy tickets here.