Matisse and The Eskimos

Most people are familiar with Henri Matisse’s colorful images from the South of France and the monumental paper cuts, by which, he proved himself as one of the greatest colorists of the 20th century. However, only a few are aware that Matisse, in his twilight years, directed his attention and creative motivation towards the North, in a series of black and white depictions of Eskimos, whose faces and mask art, he was introduced to by his son-in-law’s collection of Inuit masks and the Danish polar explorer Knud Rasmussen’s books. The exhibition Matisse and The Eskimos draws attention to an overlooked niche in Matisse’s late work, in which, he increasingly simplifies and radicalizes his portraits and figurative representations and endows them with the monumentality of the mask.