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A Matisse Exhibition with Over 100 of the Artist's Works Is Coming to the Art Gallery of NSW

As part of the gallery's 2021 program, the Sydney exclusive will also be accompanied by a lineup of works celebrating Matisse today.
By Sarah Ward
December 14, 2020
By Sarah Ward
December 14, 2020

If your 2021 plans could use a little colour and liveliness from one of the best artists that ever lived, you're in luck — because the Art Gallery of NSW is delivering exactly that as part of its newly announced 2021 program. For four months from November 2021–March 2022, the Sydney venue will host the huge Matisse: Life & Spirit, Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou, Paris exhibition. It'll feature more than 100 of Henri Matisse's pieces spanning six decades of his artistry, it's only heading to Sydney and it'll mark the greatest single exhibition of his masterworks that's ever graced the NSW capital.

Whether you're keen on Matisse's early efforts, including from his Fauvist phase, or you're more fascinated with how his talents progressed over his considerable career, you'll see something suiting your interests on display — with the exhibition running from November 22, 2021–March 13, 2022. Standouts include Le Luxe I 1907, if you're after one of his first pieces; Decorative figure on an ornamental ground 1925, from the middle of his career; and The sorrow of the king 1952, a self-portrait.

If it all sounds a bit familiar, that's because it was originally due to happen in 2020 as part of AGNSW's Sydney International Art Series, but was postponed for obvious reasons. 2021 is now shaping up to be a great year for Australians to see European masterpieces, with Brisbane's Gallery of Modern Art and the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra also showcasing works from the region — but only AGNSW will solely focus on Matisse.

As well as Matisse's paintings, sculptures and cut-outs — all from the Centre Pompidou in Paris, which boasts quite the collection — AGNSW will also be hosting Matisse Alive, which'll reflect upon Matisse in a modern context. The gallery-wide event will kick off in October 2021, letting art lovers indulge in a free festival of Matisse. Think: art, music, performances and dance, all delving into his life, his creations and how his works have inspired artists today. Textile environments, huge paintings and video works are all on the lineup, including by artists such as Nina Chanel Abney, Sally Smart, Angela Tiatia and Robin White.

Henri Matisse. 'Blue nude II (Nu bleu II)' 1952. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, on white paper, mounted on canvas, 116.2 x 88.9 cm
Centre Pompidou. Musée national d'art moderne AM1984-276. Photo © Service de la documentation photographique du MNAM Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI /Dist RMN-GP. © Succession H Matisse/Copyright Agency.

Obviously, AGNSW won't be empty for the rest of the year, before all things Matisse hit. Back in mid-2020, it revealed its blockbuster summer 2020–21 exhibitions, so you might already be familiar with Streeton, Pat Larter: Get Axed, Archie Plus, Khaled Sabsabi: A Promise, Real Worlds: Dobell Australian Drawing Biennale 2020 and Joy.

Joining them on the full 2021 agenda: the also previously postponed Margel Hinder and The Purple House exhibitions; the food focused The Way We Eat; and Brett Whiteley: Printmaker, featuring Whiteley's lithographs, etchings, linocuts and silkscreen prints. Or, you can scope out Longing for Home, which'll feature works by six Aboriginal artists; and The National 2021: New Australian Art, which will hero pieces from 39 emerging, mid-career and established Australian artists.

Installation view of the 'Streeton' exhibition at Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. Photo: Jenni Carter, AGNSW.

And yes, after 2020's delays, the Archibald, Wynne and Suleman Prizes are back as well, with the corresponding exhibition displaying from June–September 2021. There's an added bonus, too, with AGNSW also hosting a 100-year-anniversary look at the Archibald.

Matisse: Life & Spirit, Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou, Paris will display at the Art Gallery of NSW, in Sydney, from November 22, 2021–March 13, 2022. Matisse Alive will run from October 2021–2. For more information — including about AGNSW's full 2021 lineup — visit the Art Gallery of NSW website.

Top images: Sally Smart. 'The choreography of cutting' 2017. © Sally Smart. Photo: Fajar Riyanto, installation view OFCA, Yogyakarta.

Henri Matisse. 'The sorrow of the king (La tristesse du roi)' 1952. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, mounted on canvas, 292 x 386 cm. Centre Pompidou. Musée national d'art moderne AM3279P. Photo © Philippe Migeat - Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI /Dist RMN-GP. © Succession H Matisse/Copyright Agency.

Nina Chanel Abney. 'Seized the Imagination', Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, New York, 9 November 9 – 20 December 20, 2017. © Nina Chanel Abney. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Published on December 14, 2020 by Sarah Ward


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