Oceania, the Sky | Henry Matisse | Guggenheim Bilbao Museoa
Past exhibition

Henri Matisse

10.02.2002 - 02.02.2003

For more than 50 years gallery owners Hildy and Ernst Beyeler have been putting together one of the most highly regarded and visited collections in Europe. Since 1997 their unique vision of 20th-century art, and of the great classics of Modern art, has been on public display in the Swiss city of Basel in a building designed by architect Renzo Piano. Thanks to a special collaboration with the Fondation Beyeler, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is pleased to present three outstanding works by one of the most brilliant artists of the 20th century, Henri Matisse.

The works were created when the artist was nearing the age of 80 and his health was failing. In Interior with Black Fern (spring 1948) Matisse breaks with the perspective of colors. This painting would be one of his last before setting aside his brushes and opting for colored paper and scissors. Two years earlier in his Parisian studio he had created two large compositions inspired by the flora and fauna of Tahiti. He used a technique known as decoupage, pinning shapes of leaves, seaweed, flowers, birds, and fish directly onto his walls. This particular creation served as a model for two larger works made in 1946–47 entitled Oceania, the Sky (Océanie, le ciel) and Oceania, the Sea (Océanie, la mer). These two silk-screen pieces are made on sand-colored linen, reminiscent of the color of the walls in Matisse's studio and the artist's intense visual experience during his trip to Tahiti.


Henry Matisse
Oceania, the Sky (Océanie, le ciel), 1946/7
Silkscreen on linen
173 x 364 cm
Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel