March 16: Matisse bungles one?

Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954) made much wonderful art, of which many examples were included in the show just ending at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He also perpetrated some duds. The show included several. For example, “The Dream.”

What constitutes a dud depends, of course, on what interests you. What interests me about Matisse’s best work is the sense of risk, exploration, happy accident, and bold resolution. To my eye, “The Dream” is pushed past that dynamic state into a pale and sterile over-refinement. The earlier stabs at the piece, which were photographed as the work progressed, and five of which are included here, are all much more lively and engaging.

"The Dream" and study drawing  1940 [private collection via the Met]

“The Dream” and early stateĀ  1940 [private collection via the Met]

Dream drawings [New York Magazine]

Dream progress [New York Magazine]

Dream preps [New York Magazine]

Dream progress [New York Magazine]