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Henri Matisse: The Vence Chapel: The Archive of a Creation Hardcover – June 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 482 pages
  • Publisher: Skira (June 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8881184028
  • ISBN-13: 978-8881184026
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 6.7 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #956,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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From the Inside Flap

Henri Matisse: The Vence Chapel, The Archive of a Creation

Conversations and Correspondence with
Marie-Alain Couturier and
Louis-Bertrand Rayssiguier

Edited and introduced by
Marcel Billot

Henri Matisse devoted four years of his life to designing the Vence Chapel, his "crowning achievement," as he himself stated on several occasions. Though the circumstances which led to the creation of this unique building are well known--the project originated with Sister Jacques-Marie, who nursed the aging painter back to health after his brush with death in 1942--the story of the Chapel's construction has long remained shrouded in mystery.

Much of the material in this book is drawn from the Couturier Archives. The bulk of the archive consists of the notes of Brother Louis-Bertrand Rayssiguier, the young Dominican monk who drew the plan of the Chapel and worked closely with Matisse on all phases of its building and decorating. From December 1947 to June 1951, Rayssiguier met frequently with the artist and recorded their conversations verbatim. His notes allow the reader to follow day by day the unfolding of one of the supreme masterpieces of religious art in the twentieth century. Even more significantly, they give us a rare glimpse into the artist's private world. They chronicle his disappointments and his moments of elation, his habits and his foibles, his reactions to contemporary developments in the art world, as well as his deepest personal beliefs. Gifted with an unusually keen sense of observation, Rayssiguier shows us Matisse at work as well as Matisse relaxing in the intimacy of his own home.

Completing this invaluable record, the correspondence between Matisse and Father Marie-Alain Couturier, the Dominican priest at the forefront of the post-World War II movement to commission works of religious art from leading modern painters and sculptors, details the creation of the Chapel's most remarkable feature--Matisse's bold stained-glass windows. An expert on stained glass and the chief editor of L'Art sacre, an influential review devoted to religious art around the world, Courutier took care of all the logistical and technical matters relating to these great windows. The numerous letters he and the artist exchanged are in themselves a fascinating exchange on the art and the significance of modern stained glass.

This archive charts a unique journey to the heart of artistic creativity. The compilation of documents published here for the first time in English is abundantly illustrated with sketches by Matisse and photographic records that show the successive stages of the Chapel's completion.

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A. Hogan VINE VOICE on March 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First, this is not a coffe table book. Though Illustarted, it is NOT a picture book.I mistakenly thought it so.The books dimensions are1.69 x 9.40 x 7.12 ,whic are that of a normal harcover book. That said, this is an interesting volume on the creation of the famous chapel at Vence. Matisse was ill, and a young nurse kept him company though the long bouts of insomnia accompanying his illness. Later, she joined the domincan sisters.Matisse felt a huge debt to this woman-later nun, and a serious of circumstances led to the creation of this magnificent chapel. There was a domincan friar,Fr. M.A Courtier,who after being stranded in the USA during WWII,set about bringing modern art together with the sacred.{he edited a journal called SACred art}. A young architect,Br. L.B. Rayssiguier, was designing a new chapel for the NUNS at Vence, and approached Matisse to ask his advice. The majority of this book is the correspondence between Matisse and Fr Courtier and Brother Rayssiguier. The photos show the chapel in many stages of development{though not nearly enough color photos of the remarkable stained glass windows, nor of the marvelous stations of the cross} Still, it was an interesting read,that 50 years ago, the giants of art were in competition to design great works of religious art,whatever their motives.Along with the Rothko chapel{a comparison drwan in the preface},this stands as a monument to a genius,and the letters bewteen Fr Coutrier and Matisse are filled with anecdotes and observations. The Menil Foundation has done an excellent job in the production of this volume.
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