Matisse in Texas

Sounds like an oxymoron -- Matisse was such a sophisticated man, why would the city of the Alamo, the long-horn cows, and BBQ in all shapes and style be interested in the French painter's work, one wonders? But thanks to the effort of the San Antonio's Museum of Art, the blues, the pinks and the yellow palette of the great master are on display in the very cool (in all senses) art building on Jones Street until Sept. 7.

Primarily famous for his paintings, Matisse was also a sculptor and a printmaker. One of the three main artists, with Picasso and Duchamp, regarded as the definers pioneers of the revolutionary plastic arts of the 20th century, they were also recognized as masters of modern arts.

For a couple of years in his life, Matisse was considered a Fauviste , a movement of painters baptized Les Fauves (Wild Beasts) who created a new form of art with boldly colored and thickly textured works meant to shake up the then art world. In honor of the show, the local Monterey restaurant just opened a temporary pop-up joint named Wild Beasts, at the museum, overlooking the San Antonio River.

French Henri Emile Benoit Matisse (1864-1954) was a poetic painter who drew his inspiration from the colors of the South of France. Hues of blues, yellows, greens, purples explode on the canvas and reflect the warm colors of the bright summers. His odalisques' renditions were inspired by the style and the colors of Morocco, where he spent several months.

Matisse once said: "When I put a green, it is not grass. When I put a blue, it is not the sky."

In 1941 Matisse underwent surgery and needing a wheelchair, he became less mobile and invented a new simple technique of large scale cut paper collages, creating his famous Blue Nudes series with the medium he called "painting with scissors."

In 1906, American sisters Claribel and Etta Cone from Baltimore met Matisse and, in the course of 40 years, bought over 500 pieces of art from him. When Claribel died in 1929, Etta asked Matisse to help shape what became the Baltimore Cone Collection, some of which are now presented in San Antonio.

Matisse last creation was the stained-glass window of the Union Church of Pocantico near the Rockefeller estate north of New York City. This was to be his last masterpiece.

"It was his final artistic creation; the maquette was on the wall of his bedroom when he died in November of 1954", David Rockefeller wrote.

INFO: Matisse, Life in Color; San Antonio Museum of Art
200 West Jones Ave., San Antonio, Texas; Tel 210-978-8100.
Open Tues, Fri, Sat: 10-9; Wed and Thurs: 10-5; Sunday: 10-6; closed on Mondays. Admission $5-$10. Free on Tuesday 4-9 p.m. and Sunday 10-12. The Matisse tickets are timed and you must purchase a special ticket to see the show, $15-$25, including general admission.

Giddy up!