MOMA’s Spring ‘17 Exhibit, Matisse/Diebenkorn

By Savannah Summers

MOMA’s Matisse/Diebenkorn Spring was a delightful weekend excursion that featured 40 pieces by the post-modern French artist, Henri Matisse, and 60 by Richard Diebenkorn, an artist that was part of the Bay Area Figurative movement. The influence of Matisse’s work in the early 20th century resonates plainly in Diebenkorn’s color schemes and shapes.

 

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Matisse painting on left, Diebenkorn on right. Photo by Savannah Summers

The exhibit is organized in such a manner that the connections between the two artists are obvious. Placed side by side, the similarities in color and shape jump out at the spectator, leaving no doubt about the substantial influence Matisse had on Diebenkorn’s work. The exhibit was created in a way, where it is pleasurable to both the average Joe, and those with a keener eye for art.

The exhibit begins with a timeline of Diebenkorn’s life (1922-1993), which outlines his painting career and moments where Diebenkorn had access to view works by Matisse. The earlier painter’s work had a big impact on Diebenkorn, and would begin to shape his art all the way through to his final masterpiece, Ocean Park.

How is the connection and impact obvious? In the beginning of the exhibition, viewers see one Matisse painting side by side with one Diebenkorn painting.  Paintings are paired by either similar color palettes, similar patterns or similar subject matter.  For instance, there is a delightful room that shows figurative drawings by both artists.  Another example is the placement of Diebenkorn’s Ingleside, 1963, next to Matisse’s Notre-Dame, A Late Afternoon, 1902.  Here you can see the similarity of the shape of the river and the road, plus the similar perspective of each artwork.  The color palette similarities were some of my favorite observations.  For instance, a particular shade of purple in one of Matisse’s landscapes was revisited several times in Diebenkorn’s work, including in one of the Ocean Park series pieces.  

Make sure to go check out this awesome exhibit at the SFMOMA before it ends on May 29th, 2017!

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