About the Exhibition

“From the moment I held that box of colors in my hand, I knew that this was my life.” – Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954)
Marie-José in Yellow Dress, 1950
Color liftground aquatint
Sheet: 29 5/16 x 22 1/2 in. (760 x 572 mm)
Plate: 21 1/8 x 16 7/16 in. (537 x 418 mm)
The Baltimore Museum of Art: Marguerite Matisse Duthuit Collection, BMA 2011.211
Photographer: Mitro Hood
© 2013 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Bright colors, bold shapes, and expressive lines make the work of Henri Matisse (French, 1869 – 1954) some of the most influential — and recognizable — of the 20th century. Matisse’s career as an artist spanned more than six decades. Working during a time defined by rapid change (through social upheaval and two World Wars), his stylistic innovations fundamentally altered the course of modern art.

Matisse aimed to discover the “essential character of things” and to create art that expressed balance and serenity, as he explained in his Notes of a Painter (1908). His pursuit of each of these objectives resulted in work that often gave an impression of effortlessness, as if it had come easily to him. In actuality, Matisse persistently worked and reworked his compositions to find solutions for the way that color, form, space, line, and pattern functioned together.

Matisse, Life in Color will feature more than 100 works, including paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings. The exhibition explores the development of Matisse’s art thematically, looking at shifts in his style through the lens of his subjects over the course of his career.

Discover the range of his work across specific subjects, including landscapes, still lifes, interiors, and nudes. In the final section of the exhibition, Matisse’s famous artist book, Jazz (1947), presents his illustrations and shows the simplified shapes and colors of his paper cutout technique. Throughout the exhibition, visitors will be able to compare Matisse’s early experiments to his mid-career style and later, more abstract works.

Matisse, Life In Color: Masterworks from The Baltimore Museum of Art is drawn almost entirely from The Cone Collection of The Baltimore Museum of Art — one of the most renowned collections of Matisse's art in the world.

An audio guide is included with the cost of admission. Visitors can enhance their experience through interactive iPads available throughout the exhibition.

About the Cone Collection

Claribel Cone, Gertrude Stein, and Etta Cone, Settignano, Italy, June 26, 1903
Claribel Cone and Etta Cone Papers, Archives and Manuscripts Collections, The Baltimore Museum of Art, CG.12

Claribel and Etta Cone often made trips to Paris where they visited the studios of Matisse and Picasso. There they purchased contemporary art by the then-emerging artists. The sisters’ collecting habits were influenced by their friends and fellow art collectors, Gertrude and Leo Stein. Thanks to resources from the Cone family’s textile business, the two women filled their Baltimore apartments with art from floor to ceiling, assembling their collection at a time when there were few patrons of the avant-garde in America. Over the course of 40 years the sisters built a particularly close relationship with Matisse and acquired more than 500 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints from the entire span of his career. The donations of Claribel and Etta Cone gave The Baltimore Museum of Art one of the most comprehensive collections of Henri Matisse's art in the world.

Get the Catalogue

Matisse in The Cone Collection
By Jack Flam, forward by Doreen Bolger
You can purchase this book in the IMA's online Museum Store!