Still from The Biography of a Painting: Henri Matisse’s The Red Studio, 2022. © 2022 The Museum of Modern Art, New York

“I don’t know why I precisely painted it this way,” Henri Matisse once said of The Red Studio. Now seen as a groundbreaking work that introduced monochrome to the vocabulary of modern art, this 1911 painting initially baffled even the artist himself. In this video, curator Ann Temkin traces The Red Studio’s history—from its rejection by Matisse’s patron and the public, to its time in a London nightclub, to its eventual acquisition by MoMA—and considers the painting’s influence on subsequent generations of artists.

Matisse: The Red Studio is organized by The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, Denmark. The exhibition is organized by Ann Temkin, The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture, The Museum of Modern Art, and Dorthe Aagesen, Chief Curator and Senior Researcher, SMK – National Gallery of Denmark; with the assistance of Charlotte Barat, Madeleine Haddon, and Dana Liljegren; and with the collaboration of Georges Matisse and Anne Théry, Archives Henri Matisse, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France, and is on view at MoMA May 1–September 10, 2022.