Seeing Through Matisse

“Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917” opens next week at the Museum of Modern Art. It shows off new advances in technology, with Matisse’s work as the test subject. It features 26 pieces that were examined with new digital imaging techniques, laser scanning, ultraviolet illumination, and computer software to determine changes Matisse made to the works over their construction. (For more on the upcoming exhibit, see the New York Times article “Electronic Insights Into Matisse’s Technique.)

It’s truly amazing that we  now have the technology to look deep through layers of paint to ascertain insights into an artist’s changing outlook as the painting progressed.

Curators could see changes in the outlines of figures beneath the painting’s surface, revealing a constantly shifting landscape of figures, with stronger lines and more intense tones over time.

The article also reminded me of how artists’ works are perfect anthropological time capsules. Matisse, as other artists, were moved in their subject and construction techniques by the current social and political climate. During WWI, for example, Matisse reflected a grave atmosphere and opted for neutral, less flamboyant colors. The painting above, Mme Matisse: Madras Rouge (The Red Madras Headress), created by Matisse in the summer of 1907, clearly shows a pre-war oeuvre.



  1. Hi Lori,

    I am Tracy with, an online store specializing in museum quality oil painting reproductions. We are currently offering bloggers and website owners discount coupon codes which they can share with their readers. As a new business, we’re just hoping to spread the word about our store (and hopefully to get mentioned somewhere on your blog:

    Would you have any interest in offering your readers an exclusive 15% discount coupon code from Cheap Oil Painting?

    I’m hoping that readers of your blog might be interested in our paintings.

    Thanks so much for your time and consideration!

    Tracy Raian
    Cheap Oil Painting

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s