UMMA Presents ‘Matisse Drawings: Curated by Ellsworth Kelly from The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation Collection’

UMMA presents Matisse Drawings: Curated by Ellsworth Kelly from The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation Collection, showcasing the master draftsmanship of two of the most significant artists of the twentieth century: Henri Matisse (1869–1954) and Ellsworth Kelly (1923–2015). 


Henri Matisse, 'Head of a woman,' n.d., ink on paper, 18 1/8 x 11 1/4 in. © 2017 Succession H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy American Federation of ArtsCurated by Kelly in 2014, the exhibition speaks to his admiration for Matisse, as well as to the centrality of drawing in both artists’ practices.

“Matisse is most readily identified with his colorful paintings that imply warmth and vivacity. This exhibition showcases another incredibly integral component to his artistic process: his mastery of draftsmanship,” says Lehti Mairike Keelmann, Assistant Curator of Western Art. 

To accompany the 45 rarely exhibited works by Matisse (right) made in the first half of the 20th century, which reveal his process and range of creativity as a draftsman, Kelly selected nine of his own lithographic drawings that derive from his time in France during the 1960s, when the American artist studied Matisse’s sketches and studies of nature and human figures. 

Each artist's work will be on display in UMMA’s A. Alfred Taubman Gallery in separate spaces, connected by a doorway.

“There is an imagined dialogue between the two artists that is evident when navigating the two exhibition spaces,” says Keelmann. “One is immersed into the act of seeing one artist through the eyes of another. Kelly and Matisse valued drawing, and their sense of artistic style is on prime display here.”

Matisse Drawings is on display from November 18, 2017, to February 18, 2018. 

“I hope visitors will relish the opportunity to engage, and indulge, in the pleasures of close looking, enjoying and reflecting on the economy and elegance of line, embodied in the works of these two significant artists,” says Keelmann.

Matisse Drawings: Curated by Ellsworth Kelly from The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation Collection is organized by the American Federation of Arts and the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum in collaboration with The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation. 

Exhibition Related Programs

In Conversation: The Lure of Line – Sunday, Dec. 10, 3-4 p.m.

Gallery Talks: Matisse Drawings – Sunday, Dec. 17, 2-3 p.m.

Seeking Henri: Matisse Through the Eyes of Ellsworth Kelly – Friday, Jan. 12, 5:30–7 p.m.

Family Art Studio: The Line Comes Alive – Saturday, Jan. 13

SMTD@UMMA: Inexact Observations – Thursday, Feb. 1, 7–8 p.m.