Issue Number: 107
Nu aux Jambers Croisses (1936) Courtesy Helly Nahmad GalleryMatisse and Picasso remain the twin gods of modern art. Their dominance is all the more compelling in that they can be seen as opposites Matisse Apollonian in his calm, Picasso Dionysian in his frenzy. Today’s world of commercial art dealing has its own Matisse and Picasso in the Helly Nahmad and Gagosian galleries, the one purveying frankly delicious art for the delectation of those who can afford it, the other affecting a more avant-garde attitude.
It is thus appropriate that this summer in London Helly Nahmad is showing Matisse, while Gagosian puts on Picasso. Indeed, the Nahmad show examines the most luscious phase of Matisse’s art after he moved to the Côte d’Azur (see Nu aux Jambes Croisées, 1936, top right).
Femme et Enfants-Le Dessin (1954) © Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York Gagosian, slightly against form, but chiming interestingly with the Matisse show, is presenting Picasso at his most mellow (see Femmes et Enfants- Le Dessin, 1954, bottom right) after he too succumbed to the lure of the sun god and followed Matisse to the south of France. Symptomatic of the level of these shows is that Tate is lending Nahmad its four great bronzes by Matisse, The Backs, made between 1909 and 1930, while Gagosian has recruited the Picasso family, and Picasso’s legendary biographer John Richardson, who is curating the show. Stand by for the battle of the titans, but above all, enjoy!
Henri Matisse: Rêve de Bonheur Helly Nahmad, London, 020 7494 3200, www.hellynahmad.com
, 10 June-23 July
Picasso: The Mediterranean Years (1945-61) Gagosian Gallery, London, 020 7841 9960, www.gagosian.com , 4 June-28 Aug