Photo of Denise Barkis Richter at the San Antonio Museum of Art's Matisse exhibit in 2014.

Matisse: Life in Color at the SAMA

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“In the end, there is only Matisse.”
-Pablo Picasso

Now through September 7, the San Antonio Museum of Art has a plethora of Henri Matisse’s paintings, drawings and sculptures on exhibit.

Thanks to the Cone sisters of Baltimore, who assembled one of the largest Matisse collections in the world and gave it to the Baltimore Museum of Art, visitors to SAMA can revel in the French artist’s greatness. Matisse has always been one of my favorite artists. I love his sense of color and the playful nature of his work. This exhibit showcases close to 100 of his works over six decades. One of the highlights of the exhibit is a black and white film of Matisse at work. I’d seen photos of him before, but I’d never seen him in action. Très magnifique!

Dr. Katherine “Katie” Luber, director of the San Antonio Museum of Art, explained that Matisse was influenced by Michelangelo. He wrote to a friend that he’d been ensnared by a woman and would be spending all of his time with her. The woman happened to be a plaster cast created by Michelangelo. From the cast, Matisse focused on learning how to draw forms. You’ve gotta love art genealogy.

In the exhibit, I also loved seeing a photo that shows Matisse creating art up until the end of his life. It reminded me of the bumper stickers I’ve seen around town: Arte es vida. (Art is life.) Matisse’s passion, indeed his compulsion, for creating art is unquestionable.

To top off the Cone sisters’ collection, the Bank of America lent four of Matisse’s 12 illustrated art books to SAMA to enhance the Life in Color exhibit. Dr. William Keyse Rudolph, curator of the exhibits, explained that Matisse was the first to marry music with art in his “Jazz” book. The bright paper cutouts of this circus/dance hall series has always been a favorite of mine. I was also captivated by “Pasiphaé, Chant de Minos (Les Crétois),” an illustrated book that retells the story of the wife of King Minos through the poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé.

After all this art, you’ll probably have worked up a hunger. Luckily, you won’t have very far to go. Wild Beast, a pop-up restaurant along the museum’s riverfront in the Hops House, will be open throughout the Mastisse exhibit. I had their soba noodles, and I didn’t leave a single speck in my paper food tray. Tasty, tasty, tasty. No wonder. The same chefs from The Monterey are in charge.

Twenty-two San Antonio businesses have jumped on board with Matisse Paints the Town, offering items that relate to the exhibit, such as B-cycle’s Matissecycle contest.

The entry fee for the Matisse exhibit is $25 for adults, $22 for seniors, $20 for students and retired military, and $15 for active military and children ages 6-12. General admission to the museum is included in these prices. Members of the museum are not charged for the exhibit. If you’re not a member, now is the time to join!

FYI: General admission to the museum is FREE on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m. and on Sundays from 10 a.m. until noon. Active duty military get in free with up to five family members until Labor Day. Students of the Alamo Colleges also get in free with their student ID. Regular admission is $10 for adults and $7 for seniors. Kids 11 and under are free. You may purchase Matisse tickets at the door, online or by calling (210)  227-4826. The museum is limiting admission to the exhibit to 80 guests per half hour to ensure a pleasant experience.

The San Antonio Museum of Art, located at 200 West Jones Avenue, is open Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m.; Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.; and Sundays from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays. SAMA is on VIA’s #7 Sightseer Special route.

Here’s a link to an earlier post I did on SAMA, one of my top 10 favorite places in our beautiful city. If you’ve never been to the museum, or if you’ve been hundreds of times, don’t miss this special exhibit on Matisse. It’s that good. Besides, when are you ever going to have another chance to become part of a Matisse painting?

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