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Radical Invention, 1913-1917

Stephanie D'Alessandro and John Elderfield

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A major reassessment of a critical moment in the work of one of the 20th century’s most important artists

The works that Henri Matisse (1869–1954) executed between late 1913 and 1917 are among his most demanding, experimental, and enigmatic. Often sharply composed, heavily reworked, and dominated by the colors black and gray, these compositions are rigorously abstracted and purged of nearly all descriptive detail. Although they have typically been treated as unrelated to one another, as aberrations within the artist’s oeuvre, or as singular responses to Cubism or World War I, Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913–1917 reveals the deep connections among them and their critical role in an ambitious, cohesive project that took the act of creation itself as its main focus.

This book represents the first sustained examination of Matisse’s output from this important period, revealing fascinating information about his working method, experimental techniques, and compositional choices uncovered through extensive new historical, technical, and scientific research. The lavishly illustrated volume is published to accompany a major exhibition consisting of approximately 125 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints. It features in-depth studies of individual works such as Bathers by a River and The Moroccans, which Matisse himself counted as among the most pivotal of his career, and facilitates a greater understanding of the artist’s innovative process and radical stylistic evolution.

Distributed for the Art Institute of Chicago

Exhibition Schedule:

Art Institute of Chicago (March 20 – June 6, 2010)

Museum of Modern Art, New York (July 18 – October 11, 2010)

Stephanie D’Alessandro is the Gary C. and Frances Comer Curator of Modern Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. John Elderfield is the Chief Curator Emeritus of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art.


Art Institute of Chicago (March 20 – June 6, 2010)

Museum of Modern Art, New York (July 18 – October 11, 2010)

"With 138 black and white and an astounding 515 color illustrations, the catalogue to the exhibition, Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917 from Yale University Press pleases the eye as much as it challenges the mind."—Big Think

"Much of the new interpretive work that marks the catalog - a significant addition to the literature - has been spurred by conservators' recent forensic studies....Period photographs and recent X-rays support their analysis."—SF Chronicle

"This catalogue marshals contemporary technology to reveal in even greater detail than Matisse could have imagined the extent of his astonishing artistic inventiveness during this brief yet critical period."—M. T. Simms, CHOICE

"Richly informative. . . . Visually striking. . . . If you are a fan of Matisse and want to go inside his painstaking step-by-step artistic process, I urge you to buy the book and read its expert investigations."—Tom Mullaney,
ISBN: 9780300177244
Publication Date: May 31, 2011
Publishing Partner: Distributed for the Art Institute of Chicago
368 pages, 9 3/4 x 12 3/4
515 color + 138 b/w illus.
Richard Diebenkorn

The Catalogue Raisonné

Edited by Jane Livingston and Andrea Liguori

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The Age of Picasso and Matisse

Modern Art at the Art Institute of Chicago

Stephanie D'Alessandro; With Renée DeVoe Mertz

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Drawing Is Everything

Founding Gifts of the Menil Drawing Institute

Edouard Kopp, John Elderfield, Richard Shiff, and Terry Win

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The Rock and Quarry Paintings

Edited by John Elderfield; With contributions by Faya Cause

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Surrealism Beyond Borders

Stephanie D’Alessandro and Matthew Gale

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