PRINT December 1968

The Sculpture of Matisse, Part IV

THE DREAM OF MAKING MONUMENTAL sculpture preceded by many years Matisse’s actual execution of the first relief of The Back in 1909. Far from having a “distinct aversion”1 to the scale and grandeur of the ancients (and his cast of the Apollo Piombino, and Greek marble torso must be kept in mind) or harboring a complete antipathy to Renaissance sculptors, as some writers would have us believe, it is conceivable that Matisse sought in this series to do for modern monumental decorative art what Michelangelo and the Greeks had done for religious sculpture. The problems of time, expense, and lack of studio space before 1909, more than attitudes towards what sculpture should not be, accounted for the absence of works larger than The Serf. With the acquisition of a large studio at Issy-les-Moulin-eaux in 1909, it was possible for Matisse to realize his ambition, and Gertrude Stein could write of

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