Sunday, July 27, 2014

Matisse and Friends at the MNBAQ

Spent a few wonderful hours in the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec on the weekend.

Their major show, running until September 7, 2014, is titled "Morrice and Lyman in the Company of Matisse".  This exhibit "proposes to examine the seminal dialogue which took place between the founding painters of modern Canadian art ... with Henri Matisse."

Self Portrait, John Lyman, 1918

James Wilson Morrice (1865 - 1924) and John Lyman (1886 - 1967) were English Montrealers of the merchant class, who spent a good portion of their productive years in France, where they befriended Henri Matisse.

The exhibition includes a dozen paintings by Matisse, and about eighty by Morrice and Lyman. Many of the paintings were inspired by time spent in North Africa and the Caribbean.

As well, a number of Lyman's landscapes are based on his experiences in Quebec's Eastern Townships and Laurentians.

Seated Woman, Back Turned to the Open Window,
Henri Matisse, 1922

Several Odalisques (reclining female nudes posed in richly-patterned Oriental backgrounds) are featured among the Matisse paintings.

It is interesting to see how this theme and others were appropriated by the two Canadians, as they developed their own styles.

For those of us who enjoyed the recent Peter Doig exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, there are several very clear examples of how his work was influenced by Morrice, in particular.

The show will also be staged at the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario, October 10, 2014 to January 4, 2015.

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