Lida Sunderland, Assistant to Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture
Henri Matisse. Dance (I). 1909. Oil on canvas, 8' 6 1/2" x 12' 9 1/2" (259.7 x 390.1 cm). Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller in honor of Alfred H. Barr, Jr. The Museum of Modern Art, New York
I distinctly remember my first visit to the new MoMA building. I was nineteen and had just celebrated my first New York City anniversary (so I am of the generation that cannot clearly recall MoMA in its pre-2004 guise). Of the many snapshots in my mind from that day, none is as vivid as the vision of Henri Matisse’s 1909 painting Dance (I). As some may remember, it was hanging in an interior stairwell that joined the fourth- and fifth-floor galleries. In addition to being viewable from those stairs, it could also be glimpsed through a window that opened up to the Marron Atrium below, and that is how I first saw it. As I rounded a corner and entered the space, cosmic in size, I raised my head and the familiar piece of history slowly unfurled above me, and I let a smile unfurl with it. Read more
On one of my recent early-morning checks of the fifth-floor collection galleries—a daily duty of the curatorial staff, to spot any oddities—an elusive, visceral feeling gave me pause. It took me a moment to recognize that it was prompted by the wall color, which, as I moved from the European Expressionist gallery to the adjacent Matisse room, had changed from a light grey to what appeared to be a bright white. This color change is subtle enough to likely go unnoticed by many visitors, but deserves a brief moment of attention.
View of Cézanne to Picasso: Paintings from the David and Peggy Rockefeller Collection, July 17, 2009–August 31, 2009. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo: John Wronn
For the Portrait in Seven Shades piece—which we performed last week at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater—my goal was to select seven recognizable artists whose different styles would help create a contrast between each of the seven movements in the piece.
I’ve already talked about the “Monet” and “Dalí” movements, and today am moving on to “Matisse,” which very much expresses the reaction I have when I see Henri Matisse‘s paintings such as Dance (I): joy. Read more
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