Two Full A-Team Reviews: Matisse at the Blanton

* * * * (4  Stars) Out of the Shadow . . .

Henri Matisse, perhaps better known as a sculptor and an extraordinary artist, is revealed at the Blanton as a thoughtful, sometimes edgy printmaker, exploring such techniques and processes for more than 50 of his 85 years.

Unless you’re a serious art student, you don’t really have to know an etching from an aquatint; a monotype from a lithograph; a woodcut from a linoleum cut. Simply appreciate this exhibition of graphic virtuosity. There are 61 pieces of art, some as series, drawings of his children and even a self portrait. However Matisse’s narrow range focused on one of his favorite themes, nudes (mine, too), typically reclining or seated.

Jay Fisher of the Baltimore Museum of Art has organized the works in a manner that elevates the viewer’s appreciation of the artist’s ongoing refinements. Each unfolding sequence is like “a pause along the path” of Matisse’s expanding, artistic sensibilities.

The lighting is subdued in this gallery, so take a few minutes to let your eyes adjust. And bring your reading glasses if you are serious about understanding the chronology and explanation of the works.

Preston Kirk

Austin (Spicewood) TX USA

* * * ½ (3½  Stars) Go. Know. Glow.***

Don’t know this Frenchman, then by all means, meet Matisse – regarded as one of the three seminal artists of the 20th century and a leading figure in modern art.

Don’t know much about printmaking processes? Me neither. Not to worry. The brochure for “Matisse As Printmaker” contains a great glossary and clear explanations. My suggestion: Pick it up first and head for the Blanton Café. Don’t rush. Relax. Enjoy a sandwich, dessert, a coffee drink or smoothie while you “read up.” Then go to the gallery.

If you’re expecting to see his vivid use of color, you may be disappointed. However, this is an ideal collection for embracing his fluid and original drawings and to appreciate the artist’s growth, decade by decade.

Lots of nudes, yes, but nothing so salacious that a young teen visitor to the show will break into embarrassed giggles. And remember Thursday are always free, with Third Thursdays featuring a monthly themed event, extended hours (9 PM), multiple programs including Yoga in the Galleries, the Blanton Book Club and tours, etc.  For another perspective, pencil into your calendar Thursday, June 10, 12:30 P.M. Kenneth Hale, Department of Art & Art History, UT, will speak on “Matisse As Printmaker.”

Ronda Dale Kirk

Austin (Spicewood) TX USA

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The Austin Creative Alliance is a nonprofit performing arts service organization working to cultivate an environment where the performing arts can grow and flourish. We serve over 130 arts organizations with marketing, ticketing, audience development services; AEA paymaster, information & referral services — plus access to affordable health, liability, and event insurance. We also provide online professional development seminars, fiscal sponsorship services for emerging arts groups, host annual unified general auditions, annual theatre industry awards, and consistently advocate for the many benefits the arts bring to our quality of life.

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