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January 9, 2014

'Matisse, Life in Color' closes Sunday at IMA

INDIANAPOLIS — What better way to spend a winter afternoon than a trip to the Indianapolis Museum of Art to see the "Matisse, Life in Color" exhibit of one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.

The exhibit opens with a film of Henri Matisse (1869-1954) sketching a portrait of a young man. This deceptively simple drawing defined the artist’s approach to art and helped to transform the way we see the world.

"Matisse, Life in Color" highlights more than 100 of his works — paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints — that are drawn almost exclusively from The Cone Collection of The Baltimore Museum of Art.

Matisse’s venture into the world of art began when he was recovering from an illness and his mother gave him art supplies to keep him busy.

“From the moment I held that box of colors in my hand, I knew that this was my life,” said the artist.

An audio guide explains the details of various highlighted pieces. The show displays Matisse’s work in chronological order and his gradual development and change of focus is evident throughout. His early work depicts prosaic landscapes and images from his travels. In his later work, Matisse explores the use of vibrant color with a palette that is sure to warm the viewer no matter how low the temperature drops outside.

In his later years, Matisse used a wheelchair for mobility and it was difficult for him to paint. Undaunted, he developed a new style of art “painting with scissors.” He cut brightly-colored, simple forms to create stunning paper collages. In 1947 he published a limited edition book called "Jazz." Images from that remarkable work are on display in the final chapter of the exhibit.

Young artists (ages 5 to 18) are encouraged to submit their own drawings using one of the apps available in the Inspired by Matisse studio, located on the second floor of the museum. A jury of experts selects the winners and finalists from the fledgling artists and their amazing work creates a mini-exhibit of their own.

Closing Jan. 12 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, "Matisse, Life in Color" is a not-to-be-missed art event.

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