Matisse in his Studio and African Art

October 4, 2017


Ivories from the Lega region of the Congo drawn with Posca Paint Pens

Visiting the “Matisse in his Studio” exhibition at the RA was definitely one of the highlights of my gallery visits this Summer.  I had seen several of the objects previously at the Matisse Museum in Nice but not his collection of African objects which greatly influenced his work from around 1905 on.  I was intrigued by the little male and female ivories from the Lega region of the Congo.  The markings on these were said to be related to the marks (dots and short lines), used for the background of his woodcuts of the figure, made in 1906.

I had been asked to trial some Posca Paint markers so have included the image above made later, on brown paper, using white, black and silver pens.  All others images are from my sketchbook record of the exhibition visit.

Ivories from the Lega region of the Congo

In the sketchbook page below, the relation of the brow ridge in the Muyumbo mask to the ” Standing Nude”of 1907 can be seen.

Sketches of standing Nude 1907, Fang reliquary figure and Muymbo mask

There is also a reliquary figure whose neck, body shape and marking  across the belly relate to the “Seated Figure with violet Stockings” of 1914; see the tiny sketch  in the right bottom corner of the page below.

Still Life with African Figure 1907 Jomooniw Figures

Thrree sculpted heads of Jeanette, 1910, 1911, 1913 in profile and front view

Lastly I sketched the three sculpted heads above, made in 1910, 1911 and 1913 but not cast till 1953 and 1966, which also show the simplification and changed features that may derive from Matisse’s observation of African art.


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