… translations …

Although this large exhibit covers most of Matisse’s painting career, it has a specific focus: to bring together examples of the many pairs, trios and series of copies and reinterpretations of notably similar subject matter and composition, such as Le Luxe I  and Le Luxe II, above.  Usually (when the order of their creation is known) Matisse’s versions move from greater realism and detail to abstraction.

In this he’s like van Gogh who called these kinds of versions of his own work “translations,” and I think that’s a profound term;  it sees “realism” and “abstraction” as different artistic languages connected by a bridge.   Since a key theme of the modern movement was a development toward greater and greater abstraction, it’s not surprising that Matisse’s versions show his fascination with exactly that:  the relationship between “realism” and “abstraction”.

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