Matisse: The Red Studio

Henri Matisse. *Bathers*. 1907. Oil on canvas, 28 3/4” × 23 1/4” (73 × 59 cm). Gift of the Augustinus Foundation and the New Carlsberg Foundation. SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen. © 2022 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Henri Matisse. Bathers. 1907

Oil on canvas, 28 3/4 × 23 1/4ʺ (73 × 59 cm). Gift of the Augustinus Foundation and the New Carlsberg Foundation. SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen. © 2022 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Curator, Ann Temkin: There's absolutely no doubt that one of Matisse's goals for his art was to give pleasure. And in his paintings of bathers, it's a scene of pleasure. It's a scene of leisure.

Artist, Faith Ringgold: I'm Faith Ringgold. I'm an artist and Matisse is one of my favorite artists.

I think that when you look at Matisse's work, you can see he doesn't labor over things. He gets the feeling of it. He's got a lot of pictures that they're not even finished. And I think it's because he's moving along. He's saying what he has to say. And it's okay because those details that he's left out are not important, they don't bring what he wants to the painting. You're trying to make your statement without overdoing it.

Ann Temkin: The goal of making you feel joy and happiness. This was a noble goal for art and it's something we're not so much talking about these days. But he knew life was hard. And he felt that as an artist, one of the things he could do was provide the counterpoint of that.

Writer, Claire Messud: One might not think of the joy in Matisse's paintings as being radical, as being in itself a radical act, but I feel it is.

The luxuriating and voluptuous figure on the left with her arm behind her head and then her legs splayed open. I'd be the bather on the right. I'd be the bather who's all hunched over with her knees pulled up to her chest, looking maybe mournful or maybe pensive, but not open to the world in the same way as her companion. But I would long to be the naked figure luxuriating on the lawn with the flowers around me.

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