This focus exhibition presents 14 woodcut prints produced early in the careers of French artists Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958), André Derain (1880-1954), Raoul Dufy (1877-1953), Othon Friesz (1879-1949), and Louis Valtat (1869-1952)—all members of or associated with the influential group of French artists known as the Fauves (Wild Beasts). Best known for their bold and brash use of intense color in their paintings, the Fauves experimented with woodcuts to create innovative and expressive works mostly in black and white. Wild Forms: Fauve Woodcuts shows their variations in design, color, line, and form with both figures and landscapes. Most of these examples were acquired by the BMA in the last two decades, and many have not been on view for some time, if ever. The exhibition is presented in the BMA’s Jay McKean Fisher Gallery in the Ruth R. Marder Center for Matisse Studies from May 14 through October 15, 2023.
One of the oldest printmaking techniques, woodcut printing had been practiced in Europe since the 14th century and became popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1906, a large retrospective held in Paris examined the work of Paul Gauguin (1848–1903), an artist whose compositions were very influential for the younger Fauve artists. Gauguin made woodcuts and may have spurred the Fauves’ interest in the printmaking technique. For Matisse, Vlaminck, and Derain in particular, the appeal of producing woodcuts also coincided with their increasing fascination with African and Oceanic sculptures coming from regions colonized by France. This engagement with the work of African and Oceanic artists perhaps inspired them to create by carving into wood themselves. The Fauves’ expressive woodcuts, ranging from spare and somewhat rough to the more elegant and decorative, provided an avenue for the artists to create a new pictorial space using a historic method.
This exhibition is curated by Katy Rothkopf, The Anne and Ben Cone Memorial Director of the Ruth R. Marder Center for Matisse Studies and Senior Curator of European Painting and Sculpture.
Generous support for this exhibition is provided by Clair Zamoiski Segal.
More information: https://artbma.org/