Matisse in Focus? in Liverpool

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We called into Tate Liverpool last Sunday to have a look at the latest exhibitions. One of the highlights at the moment is a small (and free!) display of works by Matisse on the ground floor. The focus of the show is the artist’s large “cutout” The Snail which is usually on display at Tate Modern in London.

The Tate’s website tells us

Due to the delicate nature of the work, this is your only opportunity to see The Snail outside of London, as this masterpiece will not tour to other venues in our lifetime.

I have seen it several times when visiting Tate Modern, but it was good for people outside of the capital to have the opportunity to view this iconic work. A pity, though, that the way it was positioned, directly opposite the entrance, and the reflective glass in the frame meant that there were significant reflections that distracted from teh work somewhat.

As well as The Snail, there were a number of other works by Matisse on display.

I was familiar with these two, which have been displayed at Tate Liverpool

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Nude Study in Blue (c1899-1900)

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The Inattentive Reader (1919)

I can’t recall seeing this colourful later work before

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Draped Nude (1936)

And two works quite different in style with more subdued colours

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Reading Woman with Parasol (1921) and Cap d’Antibes (1922)

There were also four large sculptural reliefs on display The Backs

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Back IV (1930, cast 1955–6)

Although Back I had been exhibited in 1913, the series remained almost unknown until 1949–50 when the plaster Backs I, III and IV appeared in exhibitions in Paris and Lausanne. Back II was only rediscovered after Matisse’s death, while an even more naturalistic first version is now only known from a photograph. All were cast posthumously in bronze. (Tate website)

The patination (surface treatment) of these works was very dark and homogeneous. So it was difficult to see the detail. They looked very “flat” and were particularly difficult to catch on a photograph. There are better photos on the Tate website.

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