The Montclair Art Museumâ€™s exhibition Matisse and American Art (on view through June 18, 2017) examines Henri Matisseâ€™s profound impact on American modern art from 1907 to the present. The exhibition juxtaposes 19 works by Matisse with 44 works by American artists including Robert Motherwell , Max Weber, Alfred Maurer, Maurice Prendergast, Stuart Davis, Richard Diebenkorn, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Romare Bearden, John Baldessari, Sophie Matisse, Faith Ringgold, and Helen Frankenthaler.
Motherwell first encountered Matisseâ€™s paintings in the fall of 1935 at the home of Michael and Sarah Stein. He later recalled that the works he saw there, â€œ[w]ent through my heart like a golden arrow and I had one real intuition immediately. I thought this is what I want to belong to.â€ That initial response carried through Motherwellâ€™s life, influencing his works across media but especially in his collages. For the last two decades of his life, Motherwell had a Matisse cutout, La Danseuse, hanging in his home.
Matisse and American Art includes Motherwellâ€™s 1977 collage Cathedral II. The work reflects Motherwellâ€™s familiarity with Matisseâ€™s method of collage, especially the act of cutting and arranging which added a physicality to the to the composition.