Homage to Matisse
Grace Hartigan, American, Homage to Matisse, 1955, Oil on canvas; 183.5 x 122.6 cm (72 5/16 x 48 5/16 inches), Anonymous gift 56.120
Hartigan’s aggressively painted surfaces represent the strength of abstract painting in mid-twentieth-century New York. Homage to Matisse was inspired by an exhibition of his work held at the Museum of Modern Art in 1951. In a work, called Variation on a Still Life by de Heem (1915) (Collection: MoMA, NY), Matisse acknowledged the art of the seventeenth-century Dutch still-life painter Jan Davidsz. de Heem and freely reconstructed that painter’s meticulously drawn dessert table, which he had studied at the Louvre. Three times removed from the objects represented, Hartigan’s painting raided Matisse’s, lifting its lemons, lute, and platters and strapping them to her own composition with thick, slashing brushstrokes.