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  • Suzy Wakefield

Matisse and American Art


I just saw an amazing show at MAM MONTCLAIR MUSEUM OF ART that made me fall in love with my lovely new home even more. This particular group of shows are centered around Matisse’s work as well as those who were inspired by him. There were so very many artists that I not only didn’t know about but also some who I had no idea had been influenced by his work to create their own-Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, John Baldessari and William Zorach among them.. It struck me how in all walks of creative endeavors we are inspired by those who go before us or even along with us. The beauty and interest is in how we lend our unique spin to it. They say that you are the product of the five people who you spend the most time with. This seems true not only for the actual people physically in your space. It also applies to those that you listen to on podcasts, follow on Instagram or read in a book too. Our gift we give to ourselves is what we choose to learn from these interactions.

In this exhibit, the artists drew from Matisse’s inspiration in various degrees and manners, from the use of the thick blue line work and the large swathes of vibrant color to the compositions drawn from his original thematics. Each venerable artist put their touch on it and all intended to have their work pay homage in some way to this great master. Janet Taylor Pickett particularly inspired me. She immersed herself in Matisse for many years and produced amazing work from it.

I and so many designers I know are consistently excited by the couture and ready to wear shows that happen each season-the color, print, design lines and silhouettes of everyone from Givenchy to Mui Mui to MGSM to name a few of my favorites. Even brands like H&M or Zara are complimenting these greats by riffing on their work. It’s a way to pay tribute to their legacy by carrying it through to a group who would otherwise not necessarily see or experience it.

This great show at my hometown museum caused me to think about all of it in more of a synergistic way. And on top of this, I was able to witness the beautiful results of artists truly studying one another and making such special art that is that much better for the inspiration. In turn, this art will pay it forward by influencing further generations and their own peers. Here is a link to Janet Taylor Pickett’s show.

https://www.montclairartmuseum.org/exhibition/janet-taylor-pickett-matisse-series

Janet Taylor Pickett

John Baldessari

Henri Matisse

#HenriMatisse #MAM #JanetTaylorPickett #JohnBaldessari #MatisseandAmericanArt

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