Artsy Insight: Sophie Matisse’s Hidden Dimensions
The great-granddaughter of Henri Matisse, Sophie Matisse first drew attention for her “Missing People Paintings,” in which she replicated iconic paintings, leaving out there central subjects. In her more recent “Zebra Stripe Paintings,” she once again appropriates existing works of art, superimposing her imagery over them, broken up into vibrant stripes.
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Sophie Matisse’s “missing people paintings” began as a joke because she wanted to paint but felt intimidated by the illustrious name she inherited from her great-grandfather, Henri Matisse. So she replicated Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, leaving out the central figure as if she had momentarily stepped away (Be Back in 5 Minutes, 1997).This led to dozens of similarly de-populated reproductions of works by Johannes Vermeer, Edward Hopper, and even her great-grandfather. Besides drawing attention to strength of the original backgrounds and compositions, the works have their own merit. Matisse’s version of Diego Velazquez’s Las Meninas (2001, for example, convinced one critic that “It would be odd to imagine Velazquez painting an empty room like this, but that’s a fairly haunting piece.” More recently, Matisse has been making brightly colored gouaches of interlocking geometric shapes.
American, b. 1965, Boston, Massachusetts