Matisse, his Art and his Textiles
The Fabric of Dreams
5 March — 3 May 2005
In The Sackler Wing of Galleries, Burlington House
Sponsored by Farrow & Ball
With additional support from AXA Investment Managers
This exhibition explored some of the ways in which Matisse's fabric collection served him as an experimental laboratory. The exhibition focused on four periods when Matisse used textiles to help him break through to a new level of pictorial reality. It began with the fabulous silks produced for the top end of the Parisian couture market by the handloom weavers of Bohain during the painter's boyhood and adolescence in the 1880s. But the core of the exhibition was Matisse's own working library — 'ma bibliothéque de travail' — of fabrics, curtains and costumes, packed away in family trunks and storecupboards for half a century since his death. These stuffs fired and fed Matisse's visual imagination from the cradle to the grave.
Matisse, His Art and His Textiles: The Fabric of Dreams investigated for the first time his relationship with the materials that surrounded him from birth, that filled every studio he ever had, and that spilled out from their traditional background role to take over his canvases at key points in the evolution of twentieth-century art, when the fabrics Matisse painted became themselves the actual fabric of his painting.