Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Matisse and Diebenkorn at SFMOMA

Richard Diebenkorn, Woman on a Porch, 1958. Oil on canvas, 72 x 72 in. (182.9 x 182.9 cm). New Orleans Museum of Art, museum purchase through the National Endowment for the Arts Matching Grant

Henri Matisse, The Blue Window, 1913. Oil on canvas, 51 1/2 x 35 5/8 in. (130.8 x 90.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Fund 
Matisse/Diebenkorn at SFMOMA brings together 92 objects—including 36 paintings and drawings by Matisse and 56 paintings and drawings by Diebenkorn—drawn from museums and private collections throughout the U.S. and Europe. Throughout his career, Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993) was more inspired by Henri Matisse (1869-1954)than any other artist.The show comes to us from Baltimore where the viewers had the benefit of the magnificent Cone Collection of Matisse works. It seemed to me that the works by Matisse at SFMOMA were a bit thin but then, we were not given any images to work from so it's difficult to tell. I fully understand why every member of the press was clicking their cell phone camera as fast as they could. That was the only way to get your own images of these pieces; I found mine on the copy of the catalogue that we were given and on various Internet sites. There should be a better way to give us images to illustrate our articles.

Matisse, Notre Dame

“While much has been written about Matisse’s influence on Diebenkorn, this is the first major exhibition to illustrate the powerful influence of Matisse’s work on one of America’s most significant artists,” said Senior Curator of European Painting & Sculpture Katy Rothkopf. “We have carefully selected works by Matisse that Diebenkorn would have known, providing visitors to the exhibition with the unprecedented opportunity to discover Matisse through Diebenkorn’s eyes.”*Quote from the press release from Baltimore.

Organized chronologically through Diebenkorn’s career, the exhibition illuminates how this influence evolved over time through different pairings and groupings of both artists’ work.

Diebenkorn, Ocean Park

The exhibition begins in the 1940s with some of the first Matisse works that Diebenkorn saw in the Palo Alto home of Sarah Stein, one of the French artist’s first patrons. Following that introduction, he sought every opportunity to see Matisse’s work. While stationed at Quantico, Virginia, during World War II, Diebenkorn pursued a serious study of Matisse’s paintings in East Coast museums, including The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C.,The Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the BMA. These examples introduced Diebenkorn to the motifs, palette, and techniques that would later have a tremendous resonance inhis own paintings and drawings. Later in life, Diebenkorn was able to visit Russia and see the great Matisse collections at the Hermitige in St. Petersberg.

Left: Matisse, Femme au Chapeau. Right: Diebenkorn: Seated Woman

The exhibition concludes with works by contemporary artists who were inspired by Matisse And Diebenkorn. Unfortunately, ending on this note is a disappointment because none of the artists in this small selection are even remotely close to either Matisse or Diebenkorn in talent, skills or vision.


1 comment:

Carla Ives said...

I am familiar with Matisse, but didn't know much about Diebenkorn except the name. I did not realize he was a student of Matisse. I'm not big on a lot of so-called modern art or artists, but I can see the influence Matisse had on him. I like both paintings. They are different, yes, but subtly the same in many ways. I'm sure this was a fascinating exhibit and a wonderful way to contrast and compare the two artists.