The Alhambra and SECC commemorating Henri Matisse

An exhibition to be held from October will commemorate the centenary of the French painter’s visit to the site in 1910

Paulino Plata, regional Minister of Culture, and Soledad López, President of the Sociedad Estatal de Conmemoraciones Culturales (SECC), have chaired this morning, at the Palace of Charles V, the public presentation of the exhibition project Matisse and the Alhambra (1919–2010), organized by the Patronato de la Alhambra y Genaralife and SECC, in collaboration with the Fundación Obra Social laCaixa. The inauguration is planned to be celebrated this October, and the exhibition will take place at the rooms 8, 9 and 10 of the Museum of Fine Arts in Granada (in the upper floor of the Palace of Charles V).
The exhibition is curated by María del Mar Villafranca, Director of the independent managing body of the site, and Francisco Jarauta, Chair Professor of Philosophy, University of Murcia, and it commemorates the centenary of the French painter’s visit to the Nasrid monument, on December 9, 10 and 11, 1910, as well as his fascination he felt for the Oriental world after his journey to Spain, Andalusia and the Alhambra, which later on made him travel to Morocco.
The exhibition will put on display more than hundred pieces: 50 works of Matisse, from oil paintings, drawings, lithographs, one ceramic piece and one sculpture; 60 works of Islamic art of extraordinary artistic value, such as ceramics, glassworks, works of bronce, tapestries, miniatures, latticework and works of wood; also personal letters, postcards and photographs from the French painter, from the collection of the Matisse archives in Issy-Les-Moulineaux, and other objects that fit in the context, such as fabrics he collected during his lifetime (as Manila shawls, Moorish fabrics and tapestries from the Alpujarra region) and which show the fascination the artist and traveler felt for the Oriental world.
Furthermore, this exhibition will put for the first time together on display the three canvases Matisse painted in Spain and other three paintings by his friend Francisco Iturrino, conceived in their shared atelier in Seville.
Matisse and the Alhambra (1910–2010), with a division into five sections (Matisse and the Alhambra, Matisse and Morocco, Nice, The Odalisques and Last Varitions) is a contribution to the knowledge of Matisse’s life and work in his last years. 40 international renowned institutions – such as The Hermitage Museum, MoMA in New York, The Metropolitan Museum, the Louvre, The Victoria and Albert Museum and the Pushkin Museum in Moscow – and private collectors, such as the Baroness Thyssen-Bornemisza and Claude and Barbara Duthuit, heirs of the French painter, give their support to the project, whose organization has been very complex for the number of loans and their varied geographic location.
The discovery some years ago of Henri Matisse’s signature in the visitors’ book of the Alhambra has been the starting point for the research work, whose subject was the reconstruction of the motivation of Matisse’s journey to Spain, with stages in Madrid, Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Toledo and Barcelona, as well as the influence of the experience of this journey in his work. The result of the studies will be shown in the exhibition. The exhibition is also supported by the family of Matisse, especially by Claude and Barbara Duthuit, and by the establishment of a Scientific Committee with some of the most outstanding experts in Henri Matisse’s work, such as Pierre Schnieder, Remi Labrusse and Isabel Monod-Fontaine, and others.
The exhibition catalogue in three languages (Spanish, French and English) will be published by the publishing house TF. In parallel to the exhibition, two series of conferences will take place in Madrid (Caixa Forum) and Granada (Palace of Charles V), with the participation of the most important pundits in Matisse’s work.
The visitors of the exhibition will have free admission and there will be an audio guide service and an educational program, aiming at the best promotion of knowledge in this field.

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