Afterlife: The Story of Henri Matisse’s “Ivy in Flower”
June 12–December 11, 2011
Ivy in Flower, one of Henri Matisse's final and most magisterial works of art, fired the artist's imagination from its conception in the fall of 1952. “I almost have to tie myself hand and foot to prevent myself from starting work at once,” he wrote to his son Pierre. By early 1954, though, his feelings about the commission for a stained-glass window to decorate the mausoleum of American businessman Albert Lasker had undergone a dramatic change: “It is a miserable business that I should be treated like this at my age, and with all my past work to speak for me.” What was the origin of this singular project? And how did it bring the artist to such an impasse? This exhibition tells the story of how, after the apparent failure of the Ivy in Flower project, the work—a cutout, or collage of painted paper—became what neither Matisse nor his patron anticipated, one of the most beloved masterpieces in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art.
Henri Matisse, Ivy in Flower, 1953, colored paper, watercolor, pencil, and brown paper tape on paper mounted on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, 1963.68.FA, © Succession H. Matisse, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York