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Henri Matisse: A Retrospective Hardcover – September, 1992

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Reproducing more than 400 artworks (320 in color), this hefty catalogue of an exhibition at New York's Museum of Modern Art documents the largest and most ambitious Matisse retrospective ever assembled. In his exciting introductory essay, MoMA curator Elderfield, who organized the exhibit, interprets the artist as a painter of metaphors, signs and analogies that pointed to an internal world of the imagination. No mere hedonist, Matisse mistrusted visual sensations and aimed at a mode of representation that had the clarity of a text, notes Elderfield, who brilliantly deconstructs the artist's pictorial language. Elderfield shows that the myth of a Golden Age, expressed in images of luxury and erotic fulfillment, is a key influence on a man who decisively altered the way we look at pictures. While the focus here is on painting, numerous drawings, sculptures, prints and stained-glass window designs are also reproduced.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Museum of Modern Art (September 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810961164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810961166
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 10 x 12.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #492,374 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 16, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This oversized volume documents a retrospective exhibition devoted to Matisse which was held at the Museum of Modern Art in late 1992 and early 1993. The largest Matisse exhibition ever staged, it is unlikely that this massive curatorial event will ever be repeated. For devotees of Matisse, this book is an essential addition to your library, although there is little here that has not been previously published and discussed many times in earlier exhibitions. I think this book is more useful for those individuals who have just been introduced to this artist's work - it is a marvelous one-volume survey, clearly organized into seven chronological sections covering the entirety of Matisse's life, and showcasing his finest pictures. For those readers looking for more than just reproductions, however, the book is less satisfying. Elderfield's introductory essay is virtually incomprehensible for anyone who isn't already familiar with the matisse literature, and is poorly coordinated with the catalogue itself - there is no discussion of the individual paintings actually in the exhibition, or their interrelationships. The chronology of the artist's life is useful, but no more than bare bones history. This book is chiefly a visual pleasure and a fine document of a great exhibition. However, having seen the exhibition myself, I must inform the reader that many of the photographs in the book were received from non-MOMA sources, and there are variations in quality among the images. The bulk of the reproductions are just too dark, lending Matisse's pictures a muddy look that they do not possess in reality. I wish someone had bothered to compare the photos to the paintings before they sent the book to press. Still, if you buy only one book on Matisse, this should be it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By clifford on March 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Matisse is an artist that will grow with you. I often return to this or other Matisse books and find ways of seeing painting that I have never contemplated before. What's nice about this Retrospective is that it does a first rate job of covering the artists entire life in detail.

When I first got this book, I skipped over most of the writing and just soaked in the pictures (The quality of reproductions here is very well done). What will engage you in the long run are the thousands of notes that the compilers have used to compliment the pictures. Most of these notes I myself do not find of interest, though they are helpful if you would like to know of his personal life. But a percentage of these deal with the paintings and how they were created. For myself, it was illuminating to see photo documentation of Matisses work as it was transformed over time.

This is not a book that will help you gain access to the deeper/scholarly realms of Matisse. I would have loved to have had the compilers here introduce every drawing and print that the artist had completed over his life. Most of the secondary work of Matisse is not to be found here. On the other hand, I don't think that most people would be interested in seeing sketch book work.

If you like Matisse and want the book that does the best job of introducing the artist, this is the one to get.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dead Parrot on March 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A MUST for all lovers of Matisse. I bought it after seeing the current Matisse show at the Met, because I was remembering this great show from many years ago.

Too late to see the show, but still time to enjoy it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Julia Elizabeth Sloan on February 6, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My mother and I were taken back our Matisse book was gone for good, but I found this new and the same soft cover oversize format as at the actual show over 20 years ago. What a great find. Thanks.
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