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The Art Books of Henri Matisse

Venue: The Chester Beatty Library, Dublin Castle, Dublin 2 Website: www.cbl.ie Price: FREE Date: May 26th– September 25th, 2011 Time: 1 May to 30 September: Monday to Friday, 10.00 A.M. to 5.00 P.M. Saturday, 11.00 A.M. to 5.00 P.M. (All year) Sunday, 1.00 P.M. to 5.00 P.M. (All year)

An astonishing exhibition of art books by one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century has gone on public display for the first time in Europe at Dublin’s Chester Beatty Library. The Art Books of Henri Matisse has been loaned to the Library by Bank of America Merrill Lynch as part of the company’s commitment to share its collection with the wider public. The exhibition runs until 25 September 2011 and admission is free. In addition to this summer exhibition, visitors to the Library can also see the permanent collection of artistic treasures of the great cultures and religions of the world, spread over two floor galleries. The Matisse exhibition features text and original illustrations from four of the most artistically significant books by Henri Matisse (1869-1954), including the famous Jazz, which contains the iconic Icarus, one of the most widely reproduced images, ever. Loosely based on the themes of circus and theatre, Jazz evokes a glorious carnival-like atmosphere. There are framed pages from three other books also on display: Poèmes de Charles d’Orléans, Poésies de Stéphane Mallarmé, and Chant de Minos.

Known for his use of bold color, fluid shapes and a cut-out printing technique, Matisse who died in 1954, created a body of work that also included drawings. Though he didn’t begin his work with illustrated books until his late sixties when he was in poor health, he considered them among the works of which he was most proud.

Two Matisse books from Chester Beatty Library’s own collection are also on display: Poèmes de Charles d’Orléans , which is inscribed from Matisse to Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, and a copy of Matisse’s illustrated version of James Joyce’s Ulysses (1935), which was acquired by the Library in 2009.  Beatty and Matisse knew each other and shared an interest in Persian miniatures and Japanese prints, which they both collected.  Beatty visited Matisse in Nice, where they both had homes, and the inscribed book was given to him as a gift directly from the artist.  Beatty’s wife, Edith, also knew Matisse and had two of his paintings in her personal collection. 

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