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Henri Matisse, La Leçon de Piano, (The Piano Lesson) 1923. Painted in 1923, La Leçon de piano is one of the finest interior compositions from Matisse’s early Nice period, combining his skills as a colourist in conveying the splendour of his Mediterranean studio with an intimate portrayal of his three young sitters. The vibrantly coloured and highly patterned fabrics that make up the interior have become synonymous with Matisse’s art from the 1920s, and in the present composition they are complemented by the piano on the left, while the composition is centred around the figures of Henriette Darricarrère, Matisse’s favourite model of this era, and her two younger brothers.

Henri Matisse, La Leçon de Piano, 1923
Oil on canvas
65 x 81 cm. (25 5/8 x 31 7/8 in.)
©Helly Nahmad Gallery NY

Inspiration Matisse
September 27 - January 19, 2020

The Nahmad collection is pleased to participate to Inspiration Matisse.
Color, form, surface, figure and space – Henri Matisse, the master of painterly innovation, combined these elements in an entirely new way around 1905. His figurative and symbolic reductions bordered on abstraction. The French painter, printmaker and sculptor Matisse (1869–1954) had a lasting influence on twentieth-century art. Hardly any young artist looking to build on impressionism’s foundations could fail to engage with his oeuvre. In developing and intensifying his means of artistic expression, Matisse continued to work within the European tradition while simultaneously opening himself up to the possibilities offered by oriental and far Eastern art.

With an exhibition of over 100 selected paintings, sculptures and graphic works, the Kunsthalle Mannheim presents Matisse as a pioneer of modernity and an example to his circle of younger contemporaries, whether the French fauvists, the German expressionists or students of the Académie Matisse—a true artist’s artist. In addition to landscape paintings, among which number famous Mediterranean scenes, the exhibition includes still lifes, studio pictures, and portraits, as well as a series of figures in space and backs. The pinnacle and finale of the exhibition are Matisse’s four famed life-sized “Backs”, which were created between 1909 and 1930 in a continual reduction of the artist’s sculptural expression.

In addition to Matisse, André Derain, Georges Braque, Charles Camoin, Kees van Dongen, Raoul Dufy, Henri Manguin and Albert Marquet are also represented in the exhibition, as well as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Alexej von Jawlensky, August Macke, Gabriele Münter and Max Pechstein. Works by the German pupils of Matisse Rudolf Levy, Oskar and Margarete Moll, Hans Purrmann and Mathilde Vollmoeller are also included. The works by these different artists combine to create an exciting dialogue and reveal new perspectives. It becomes evident that Matisse led the way to new form and content, simultaneously acting as a catalyst for individual artistic liberation.