Matisse in the Studio at the Royal Academy review: an intriguing new perspective on the artist's work

Olivia McEwan
Matisse in the Studio

This fascinating show looks at Matisse’s work through the prism of collected objects from around the world. “The object is an actor,” explains the artist.

“A good actor can have a part in 10 different plays; an object can play a role in 10 different pictures.” Thus 35 objects from his studio are here matched with 65 paintings, sculptures, drawings and cut-outs, exploring how these visual cues informed and shaped his work.

A simple pewter jug, an Andalusian glass vase and a chocolate pot recur in his works in various guises, showing how Matisse would return to and view them afresh throughout his career.

Drawing inspiration from objects found on his travels to Spain, Morocco and Algeria, he used his collection as a “working library”, and was always on the look-out for new items: after visiting the British Museum and the V&A, he acquired a calligraphy panel and some blue and white vases.

It’s an intriguing angle to approach Matisse’s work, illustrating how the collection of visual stimuli was vital to the working practise of one of our most revered artists.

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