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Arts & Culture

Henri Matisse: Life In Color Opens At SAMA

courtesy San Antonio Museum of Art
Ballet Dancer Seated on a Stool

The San Antonio Museum of Art opens an exhibition on one of the art world’s giants: Henri Matisse. Matisse shook things up when he was first becoming known. In fact, he and his contemporaries were given a derisive name.

"They were called 'fauvists' by art critics of the time, which in French means ‘wild beasts,” like a javelina, basically," said SAMA’s William Keyes Rudolph.

The art world was much more narrow back then, much less open to new ideas.    

"Matisse started out as an artist who was considered very radical," said Rudolph. "His use of color did not conform to the way our eyes tell us color should be. Matisse broke the rules with that. By the time Matisse had passed away, the world had sort of caught up with his emotional vision of color."

Matisse: Life in Color opens this Saturday at the San Antonio Museum of Art.

"There’s nearly a hundred works," Rudolph said, "which have all been drawn from the Baltimore Museum of Art, which is one of the greatest repositories of Matisse in the world."

As Rudolph explained, that Baltimore museum has a curious source for the works.

"Two sisters from Baltimore — Claribel Cone and Etta Cone — collected Matisse," he said. "During their lifetime they got to know the artist."

They knew and loved Matisse's works, and took a chance on collecting what was then a little-known artist.

"And we’re fortunate here in San Antonio to be the third and final stop — the only stop in the South — for that traveling show," said Rudolph.

You can see Matisse at SAMA until September 7.

"It’s just quite wonderful," Rudolph said.