Viewing Room

Alternate Text

17/25

Alternate Text

Henri MATISSE

Nu debout

1951
65.3 x 50.2 cm (25 ³/₄ x 19 ³/₄ inches)
Charcoal on paper (double-sided)
Signed and dated lower left H. Matisse fev-51


Provenance:
Maurice Chevalier, Paris 
Galerie Blanche, Stockholm
Former collection Ortolani, Uruguay and Brazil
Private collection, acquired from the above
 


Literature:
Louis Aragon,Henri Matisse, roman, Paris 1971, vol II, p. 237, no. 194, repr.


This work is registred in the archives of Henri Matisse under reference n° R13 (certificate by Georges Matisse dated May19th 2019).
 


Henri Matisse drew Standing Nude in 1951 at the height of his artistic maturity. It contains all the elements of his genius, which, in just a few pure, simple lines, evokes a woman in all her grace and energy. This drawing illustrates the artist's obsession with white as color and form. His use of the line to suggest the woman's voluptuousness leaves the background empty, giving the drawing all its levity and force.

When Aragon published his Henri Matisse, roman (Henri Matisse, a novel), it was the culmination of a project begun thirty years before, when the painter and the writer first met in 1941. Aragon was 44 and Matisse, 72. They met to discuss the preface to a catalogue, but that project was continually deferred, revised . . . and that meeting marked the first of many encounters, mostly around Nice.

That work was not a matter of art history, art criticism, or biography. In the beginning, Aragon wrote and Matisse corrected, but their continued exchange soon led to a collection of various texts by Aragon and sketches and charcoal drawings by Matisse, including the Standing Nudethat we're presenting here. This collaboration gave birth to an art book in two volumes, a compilation of all the versions of Aragon's prefaces, articles, and commentaries over a period of thirty years.

"This is a novel, which is to say a language imagined in order to explain the singular activity undertaken by a painter or sculptor, if we must use a common noun for these explorers of stone and of canvas whose art is precisely that of escaping the explications of text . . ." Aragon noticed when speaking of Henri Matisse, roman.