‘Matisse in the Studio’: the studio as theatre

Weekend-long practical course

Courses and Classes

● Fully booked

  • 7 October 2017, 10.30am — 5.30pm
  • 8 October 2017, 10.30am — 5.30pm

Part of our

Matisse in the Studio

events programme
Go to exhibition page

Working exclusively in oil paints, and inspired by the ‘Matisse in the Studio’ exhibition, participants will work with partially costumed female life models within a decorative and theatrical setting, in order to replicate Matisse’s immersive approach to painting in the studio.

Matisse absorbed and drew inspiration from the pictorial languages of global traditions throughout his life as an artist. Taken from both Western and Eastern sources, and spanning from the prehistoric era to his present day, Matisse recognised the fundamental essence and importance of such strong representational symbolism, and employed it to shape the development and synthesis of his work. This synthesis, combined with his own idiosyncratic sensibilities, determines who Matisse is as an artist.

Within his written essays, The Path of Colour, 1947, Matisse states:

“If I instinctively admired the Primitives in the Louvre and then Oriental art, in particular at the extraordinary exhibition in Munich (of 1910), it is because I found in them a new confirmation. Persian miniatures, for example, showed me the full possibility of my sensations. I could discover in nature how my sensations should come. By its properties, this art suggests a larger and truly plastic space. That helped me to get away from intimate painting. Revelation thus came to me from the Orient.”

Henri Matisse, 1947

A certain, but by no means complete culmination of Matisse’s revelation from the Orient came about during his Early Nice Period, 1917-1930, when a major motif and inspiration within his work was the female figure, either nude or more regularly partially clothed and dressed in exotic wear, represented as an odalisque. For an avant-garde artist, as Matisse was considered by this time, this seemed to some as a negative throw-back to the previous century’s traditional Western and over-romanticised concept of Orientalism, and was even regarded as voyeuristic. However, Matisse was not naive to the possible accusation, and maintained that he employed the aesthetic in order to be able to set up a sumptuous visual theatre for both formal and pictorial purposes, as “an excuse to make Art”, to quote Degas on the theatre of the Ballet.

The primary, formal pictorial concern for Matisse was to develop an abstract and plastic language to parallel and equal his perceptual experience, in order to express his emotions on the canvas. This developed into the primacy of a rhythmic orchestration, a decorative compositional design, where all forms and suggested space related to one another have equal importance without the main focus, or hierarchy, falling onto the narrative subject matter. Therefore, in practical terms, the perceived foreground and suggested background paint the figure as much as the figure paints and informs the viewer of the foreground and background.

This course endeavours to embrace and explore, rather than pastiche, such ideals and concepts while working under the guidance of painter and expert tutor Andy Pankhurst.

This course is set in the purpose-built Learning Studio at the Royal Academy in Burlington House.

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

  • 7 October 2017, 10.30am — 5.30pm
  • 8 October 2017, 10.30am — 5.30pm

The Learning Studio, Burlington House, Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly

£480. Includes all materials, lunch and wine reception at the end of the second day.