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Matisse/Odalisque Exhibition

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954) Odalisque with Tambourine (Harmony in Blue), 1926 Oil on canvas 36-1/4 x 25-5/8 in. (92.1 x 65.1 cm) Norton Simon Art Foundation © 2019 Succession H. Matisse/ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

During the colonial period, images of reclining nude figures and concubines became popular subjects in European art and literature. The aesthetic of luxury and indolence came to defined images of sensual women from the mysterious and dangerous East, leading to the formation of an imaginary “Orient,” which represented temptation and lust. This life style opposed “Occidental” traditions, forcing a deeper divide between the geographically obscure “Orient” and 19th-century industrial society in the West.

Viewers of Matisse/Odalisque, a temporary exhibit of at the Norton Simon Museum, will notice how this small collection is carefully put together to exemplify the ways in which the artists approached the odalisque as an opportunity to create a fantasy; taking advantage of vibrant color ranges, dazzling costumes, and mesmerizing surface effects.

Although there are similarities in the works selected for this exhibition, viewers will also notice differences. The aesthetic of odalisque is diverse throughout the mid-19th through mid-20th centuries, reflecting the belief that painters perceived the “Orient” to be adaptable, offering opportunities to embellish and innovate while embodying the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the artist’s own creative process.

In an effort to capture how the artists consistently focused their attention on the inventive aspects of the odalisque, the Norton Simon museum has selected eight subjects from its collection to show visitors. Matisse/Odalisque features pictures by Henri Matisse, Frédéric Bazille and Pablo Picasso, among others.

The Norton Simon Museum will be showing Matisse/Odalisque, a vivid new exhibit surrounding the theme of odalisque from February 22 until June 17, 2019. Featuring pieces from their own private collection, Matisse/Odalisque is surely something to see while available.