The Frankfurt museum presented two outstanding artists—Henri Matisse (1869–1954) and Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947)—in an exhibition that was the first in Germany to bring these key modern masters together. At the heart of the comprehensive presentation was the friendship between the two French artists which lasted for over forty years. Both painters shared a preference for the same range of subjects: interiors, still lifes, landscapes and the female nude. With a selection of more than a 120 paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints, the exhibition opened a dialogue between Matisse and Bonnard and offered new perspectives on the development of the European avant-garde from the beginning of the twentieth century to the end of the Second World War.
After the successful conclusion of the extensive loan negotiations, the Städel was looking forward to presenting outstanding works from internationally renowned collections, among them the Art Institute of Chicago, the Tate Modern in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Pompidou and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the State Hermitage in Saint Petersburg and the National Gallery of Art in Washington. The selection of works was complemented by a substantial group of photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson who visited the artists on the French Riviera in 1944. A particular highlight of the exhibition were the two paintings the artists owned by one another, which were shown together for the first time.
Another highlight was Matisse’s “Large Reclining Nude” of 1935—a key work which has not been on display in Germany for more than thirty years and which has been on loan from the Baltimore Museum of Art. This iconic nude was a milestone on the artist’s journey towards an aesthetic of highly simplified forms and shows his studio assistant and last important model, Lydia Delectorskaya. It is very likely that the painting was inspired by Bonnard’s Reclining Nude against a White and Blue Plaid, which it closely resembles in composition, and which has been in the collection of the Städel Museum since 1988. The opportunity to show these two paintings in dialogue was key to the planning of this project.
Curator: Dr. Felix Krämer (Head of Modern Art, Städel Museum)
Co-Curator: Dr. Daniel Zamani (Research Associate, Modern Art, Städel Museum)
Société Générale, Städelscher Museums-Verein e.V.
With additional support from
Georg und Franziska Speyer’schen Hochschulstiftung
Süddeutsche Zeitung, Media Frankfurt, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, ARTE, WirtschaftsWoche, Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt Main