Yesterday, I traveled to the beautiful Baltimore Museum of Art to see the Matisse – Diebenkorn Exhibition. I had mixed feelings about the show. Because I have long loved Matisse, I was disappointed that the brilliantly colored and heavily designed Matisses were not part of the show. At the Baltimore Museum of Art, however, that is not a huge problem. Baltimore has the largest collection of Matisses in the world, and while they Matisses in the special exhibition are muted to speak to some of Diebenkorn’s more muted paintings, the BMA permanent collection is brimming with the bright Matisses that many of us treasure.

Image result for matisse interior with dog

Henri Matisse – Interior with a Dog – Permanent Collection BMA

While Matisse was still living and when he was more affordable, the Cone sisters from Baltimore collected many Matisse paintings and when they died, the vast Cone collection was bequeathed to the Baltimore Museum of Art. The Matisses in that collection are delightfully vivid.

The BMA has carefully reconstructed the Baltimore apartments of the two Cone sisters and a slice of their apartments is housed as part of the collection. A sophisticated virtual tour of the apartments is also housed at the museum.

The Cone Collection also houses other artists who were contemporaries of Matisse. There are Picasso paintings and Renoir paintingsand Bonnards and Gauguins, etc.


Image result for Gauguin painting man with cello bmaThe large Gauguin painting of the man with a cello is in the Cone collection, and it is much more brilliant than the above image conveys.

Because there are numerous bright and colorful paintings in the permanent Cone collection of the BMA, it is easier to appreciate that the Matisse paintings chosen for the special Diebenkorn exhibition are more muted and often more abstract than what many of us love about the Fauvistic Matisse.


Believe it or not, Matisse painted the following:

Image result for matisse goldfish and palette

Matisse – Goldfish with Palette

And Matisse painted the following image on the left, which is compared to the Diebenkorn on the right.

Image result for diebenkorn bma

A large number of Diebenkorn’s grilled abstracts are part of the Matisse – Diebenkorn exhibition, but there are other of his types of art, too, and in some of that work, you are able to see how Matisse’s use of pattern and design influenced Diebenkorn.

Baltimore Museum of Art

Henri Matisse – Reclining Nube with a Flowered Robe – 1923

Baltimore Museum of Art

Richard Diebenkorn – Woman Seated in a Chair 1963

Notice how Matisse’s sense of design presents itself in the following abstract painting by Diebenkorn:

Image result for diebenkorn berkeley

Richard Diebenkorn – Berkely Years

In the above painting, the highly designed swatch is painted on the interior of a room, and on the right of the painting, there is a window that looks out. Matisse painted several room interiors with windows.

The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

Henri Matisse – Studio, Quai Saint Michel – 1916

A few of Matisse’s still life paintings were part of the exhibit, and my favorite of the Diebenkorn paintings were his still life paintings.

Image result for diebenkorn still life with oranges

Diebenkorn – Still Life with Oranges

Diebenkorn’s still life paintings are painterly and they are like his painterly abstracts that are reminiscent of Hans Hoffman.

Image result for diebenkorn still life with oranges

Diebenkorn – Berkely No. 23

Image result for matisse still life blue jug diebenkorn exhibit

Richard Diebenkorn – Still Life with Iris [Not part of the Matisse Diebenkorn exhibit]

Diebenkorn’s Still Life with Iris is a bridge between his painterly still lifes and his painterly abstracts.

The Matisse – Diebenkorn exhibition will move to San Francisco in 2017, but I advise anyone who can do so to see the show at the BMA. I especially advise those who love the colorful Matisse paintings to see the show in Baltimore. There, you will be able to see the gigantic influence that Matisse had on Diebenkorn, but you will also be able to see the older master’s more vivid paintings as well.

©Jacki Kellu October 30, 2016