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By the book with Henri Matisse.

"The Art Books of Henri Matisse," on view through Dec. 31 at the Portland (Maine) Museum of Art, features one of the preeminent modernist artists of the 20th century, and offers a profound glimpse into the relationship between textual and visual imagery.

The exhibition showcases four books by the pioneering French artist, including his renowned and highly influential Jazz. Even those deeply familiar with Matisse's paintings will thrill to explore this remarkable side of his practice, which bears the artist's signature energy, elegance, and color, but seen here in lithographs, etchings, pochoir (stencil) prints, and linocuts.

Artists' books--limited-edition publications featuring original works of art--became increasingly popular in Paris during the first decades of the 20th century, when a growing group of educated, bourgeois collectors sought new ways to acquire works by leading contemporary artists. Matisse, like many avant-garde painters, worked in the medium to extend the popularity of his art and explore new techniques.

Using the book medium as an extension of his creative drawing practice, Matisse was able to distill his lifelong passion for the written word, while producing illustrations that neither were redundant with the written descriptions nor too independent of them.

The books reflect an artist embracing new challenges through continuous experimentation and extraordinary creativity. Each of the four books on exhibit-Pasiphae-Song of Minos (The Cretans); The Poetry of Stephane Mallarme; Poems of Charles d'Orleans, and Jazz--reveals vastly different approaches to this medium, from manipulating white text on black pages (and vice versa) to making colorful cut-paper collages that he later used as stencils for the book.

"The Art Books of Henri Matisse" embodies a unique and powerful art form, where word and image amplify each other and expand our notions of artistic harmony and creativity.

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Title Annotation:What's New?; "The Art Books of Henri Matisse" exhibition in Portland, Maine
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1U1ME
Date:Nov 1, 2016
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