Matisse. Arabesque

  5 March - 21 June 2015


curated by Ester Coen


Encounters with Matisse


It has become something of a tradition for the Palazzo delle Esposizioni to host a rich programme of encounters and lectures to tie with the Scuderie del Quirinale's major exhibitions, offering the public an opportunity to explore some of the issues addressed in the exhibition in greater depth.  The exhibition devoted to Henri Matisse, one of the truly great figures of modern art, is to be accompanied by the reflections of a number of scholars who will be interpreting his work in search of the figurative constants and the spiritual calling behind them, defining his influence on –  and his legacy to – the cultural sphere that came after him, not only in the visual arts but also in music and dance.



18 March, 6.30 pm

Éric de Chassey

Matisse, a Religious Painter?

Evoking the spiritual dimension in Matisse's work immediately brings to mind his last works, modulated on explicitly religious and Christian themes.  But if we extend the notion to cover his entire artistic output, we will see that a different, richer and less consistent vision emerges.


25 March, 6.30 pm

Micol Forti

"My Second Life".  The Chapel of the Rosary in Vence and Matisse's Final Years

The construction of the celebrated Chapel of the Rosary in Vence occupied Henri Matisse's creative energy to the exclusion of all else between 1948 and 1951.  In realising this project, the artist perfected new design and production techniques, producing a monumental work conceived in every detail, from the architecture and the stained-glass windows to the figurative panels in ceramic, the furnishings and the liturgical vestments.



8 April, 6.30 pm

Claudio Zambianchi

"Never Before Has Matisse Seemed So Young": Henri Matisse and Abstract Expressionism

Looking at the painting of the Abstract Expressionists between the first and second half of the 1940s, one can detect a move away from the influence of Picasso's painting towards the assignation of new value to flat brushwork and to the application of colour on the surface.  This new development can be traced back to young American artists' interest in the art of Henri Matisse, sanctioned among other things by the major and crucial exhibition devoted to the artist at the MoMA in New York in 1951.


15 April, 6.30 pm

Dominique Szymusiak

"Pure Light, Pure Air, Pure Colour".  1930.  Matisse's Trip to Polynesia

Matisse left Nice in 1930 for a three-month trip to Tahiti.  He visited Papeete, treading in the footsteps of Gauguin, and discovered the charm of the landscape in the Tuamotu islands.  He did not complete a single work during his trip but he brought back with him the impressions of a journey replete with discoveries regarding the world of form, light and colour that was to resurface with a vengeance, in the shape of fresh inspiration many years later, when he began to explore the technique of cut-outs.


22 April, 6.30 pm

Francesco Antonioni

Wild Arabesques:  The Rite of Spring and its Consequences

Contrasting structure and arabesque allows us to explore the music of Western art from its Gregorian origins to its most recent developments.


29 April, 6.30 pm

Sergio Trombetta

Matisse and Dance

From his extremely celebrated youthful work La Danse (1909) to the output of his final years, such as his artist's book Jazz (1947), via his crucial experience with the Ballets Russes for Igor Stravinsky's Le Chant du Rossignol [The Song of the Nightingale] on which the composer worked with and Léonide Massine (1920), Matisse is the artist who succeeded better than anyone else in the 20th century in capturing and in rendering the magic of the body in movement, transforming it in images that remain to this day the absolute icons of the 20th century.


13 May, 6.30 pm

Daniela Lancioni

Arabesque:  From Ornament to Structure.  A Semi-Permissible Reflection on Contemporary Art

It is not permissible to associate the arabesque category with a Wall Drawing by Sol LeWitt, with one of Gianni Colombo's environments, with a site-specific work by Daniel Buren or with a series of photographs by Bernd and Hilla Becher.  Yet all of these works, along with many others, are based on the same repetition of similar elements that we find in an ornament.  So is it permissible to surmise that the traditional category of ornamentation, imbued with new values, has undergone a metamorphosis in contemporary Western art?





Our thanks to






Palazzo delle Esposizioni - Sala Cinema

Admission via steps in via Milano 9a, Rome


Seats assigned from one hour before the start of each encounter

Reservations may be made by membership card holders only



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