Henri Matisse: Modernist Against the Grain

Front Cover
Penn State Press, 2009 - Art - 231 pages
1 Review

What makes Henri Matisse a &“modernist,&” when so much of his work harks back to older French traditions and the artist himself never seems entirely at home in the twentieth century? Bock-Weiss addresses the paradox of Matisse&’s status as a canonical modern artist, but one whose work and career cannot be mapped onto conventional histories of an insurrectionary modernism. She frames this issue by positioning the artist in surprising contexts: his manipulation of mass media in shaping his public image, his singular relationship with Gertrude Stein, and his painterly use of cinematic devices in the 1920s to respond to the crisis of cubism. Equally unprecedented is the author&’s close examination of two major critical responses to Matisse&’s work: a formalist defense by the Russian dance critic Andr&é Levinson, and the claim by Pierre Schneider and others that Matisse is a spiritual artist on the Byzantine/Islamic model. Providing neither a unified portrait of the artist nor a new definition of modernism itself, the author considers the many-faceted elements of the artist&’s life, work, and reputation to present a comprehensive new framework for viewing both Matisse and modernism.


What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

The author shows an interesting approach to Matisse, with refreshing insights to his life as an artist of the Modernist time. However, the general tone seems biased against him, and the sequence of chapters do not make a good sense. Overall, the book does not carry itself as a coherent cluster of reflections on the artist. 


Matisse The Man
Matisse His Work
Matisse His Critics
Back Cover

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

Catherine Bock-Weiss is Professor Emerita of Art History at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the author of Henri Matisse and Neo-Impressionism, 1898&–1908 (1981) and Henri Matisse: A Guide to Research (1996).

Bibliographic information