The exhibition featured the painting The Dream, which Matisse painted in 1940. It shows a human figure with recognisable facial features, wearing a richly decorative blouse.
Matisse had long been interested in various types of fabrics, collecting them in a kind of image bank or “working library”. During his visits in Nice in 1935-36 Matisse developed a penchant for embroidered blouses. He became keenly interested in some Romanian blouses he discovered amongst his possessions. He was particularly fascinated with their simple, geometric design inspired by an oak leaf motif.
The creative process
Matisse had many of his paintings photographed during their creation, offering insight into his working process. The photographs of the earlier versions of The Dream show us how Matisse simplified the subject. In the finished painting Matisse shifted his focus from the blouse to the figure, which became the true subject of the painting.
Hear more in the audio guide
This text is based on Doïna Lemny’s essay The Metaphysics of Decoration. The full article is available in the exhibition catalogue, where you can also explore much more of Matisse’s art in a total of 28 articles.
You can buy the book in the museum art bookshop.