Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Matisse Exhibit Leaves a Colorful Impression

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Matisse Exhibit Leaves a Colorful Impression

Article excerpt

Color is perhaps the first thing one sees in a room hung with the work of Henri Matisse, the first impression that lingers, and maybe the last. He was, after all, first among the fauve artists - the "wild beasts" of color.

But there's so much more, as a traveling exhibition of paintings, drawings, and sculpture amply demonstrates. "Matisse from the Baltimore Museum of Art," at the Denver Art Museum, showcases some remarkable work by the modern master, though it is by no means a complete retrospective. Cutouts are notably missing.

In fact it is all from the Cone collection - a collection dictated by the taste of Dr. Claribel Cone and Miss Etta Cone. The spinster sisters from Baltimore inherited a great deal of money and indulged their taste in avant-garde art. They cultivated friendships with Leo and Gertrude Stein, Matisse, and other artists, and collected with a fervor - every summer would find them traveling in Europe on art-buying sprees.

Though they complained to each other through their lives of the backwardness of Baltimore, both ladies were engaged in the civic and cultural life of the city and loved it enough to endow it with their large collection.

And with the Cone ladies in mind, it helps bring the work into personal perspective. We find ourselves trying to peer through their eyes. They attended the famous Paris Salon D'Automne in October of 1905 where the breakthrough work of Rouault, Vlaminck, Marquet, Derain, and of course, Matisse, was exhibited. The following year, Etta met Matisse and bought her first two works from him.

Curators at the Denver Art Museum have been mindful of the Cone friendship with Matisse and arranged the collection in such a way as to evoke the ladies' presence with photographs, labels, and the drawings Matisse did of each of them. It's clear that their taste and interests dominate, just as their understanding of Matisse's enormous contribution to modern art contributes to our enjoyment. …

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