Matisse was famous for his nudes, his spare, fluent lines, love of texture and design and bold color. It is fascinating what a wide net his influence cast. Let me say from the get go that the best paintings and drawings in the show are those by the master himself. Nudes in charcoal with perfect lines. "Pianist with Checker Players", 1924, an oil painting with all the detail and love of textiles Matisse is so famous for. The well known, "Yellow Odalisque", 1937, with the strange large hands. What I love best about Matisse is his playfulness.
As for his followers, the net is wide. Stand outs for me, include, Walt Kuhn's "Portrait of Vera", with its bold color and strong lines. Walter Pach, whose oil, "Girls Bathing", has a very Matisselike feel, joyful with colorful flat female bodies romping in the water. "Spring in Central Park", by William Zorch, with deep blue, outlining two nude lovers with flowers springing all around. A real stand out is Andy Warhol's "Fabulous Woman", synthetic paint and silkscreen inks on canvas, 1985. He perfectly channels Matisse with his fluid lines, and yet, Warhol's own unique vision shines through. He pays homage to the strange large hands.
In some cases, the kinship to Matisse is a stretch, such as George Segal's sculpture, "Girl On A Chair." The only parallel drawn is that it is a nude and the chair is bright red. On the other hand, Patrick Bruce was Matisse's student. And his painting of flowers in a pot from 1911, is a direct imitation of his teacher. And less remarkable for that fact.
There is an adjacent exhibit by Janet Taylor Pickett, "The Matisse Series, in which she expresses, through collage and water color, her admiration for Matisse while incorporating her own African American cultural references.
This show is at the Montclair Art Museum, February 5-June 18, 2017. Let me add that it is a wonderful museum with a Native American Gallery and a permanent collection of the mystical works of George Inness, who lived in Montclair at one time.