Artsy Insight: Sophie Matisse’s Hidden Dimensions
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