‘The Summer for Matisse / ‘Un été pour Matisse’ Part Two

Bonjour, again! As discussed here I would be speaking about the ‘Theatre de la Photographie et L’Image.’ I think I shall abbreviate it to ‘Theatre Photographie!’ The exhibition at this particular museum was part of the ‘Summer of Matisse’ series of exhibitions in Nice, France. The exhibition displays sculptures of women by Henri Matisse alongside photographs of women from the early 20th Century to the modern day.

The images depict the evolution of the roles of women and how women are depicted in photography. These photographs are taken from the private collection of Amedeo. M Turello, a fashion photographer.  Here is an example of some of the work on display:

Gertrude Kasser – Portrait ‘Miss.N’ 1903.

Henri Matisse, ‘Ancient Bust,’ 1900.

These images show how the curators and exhibition team strived to juxtapose Henrti Matisse’s subject of women against the medium of photography.As there was no photography allowed, not even a sneaky phone photo as bags were checked at the door, it is hard to describe the exhibition layout! Each ‘area’ or room in the Theatre Photographie represented a decade or a fifteen year period. All of these areas had busts by Matisse with photo’s of women on the wall.

There were explanations on who the various photographers were, their techniques and information on who the sitters in the photograph’s were. As there was no photography allowed, not even a sneaky phone photo as bags were checked at the door, it is hard to describe the exhibition layout.

The exhibition was well laid out and finding your way was easy. What also appealed to me was the fact that there was information available in several languages. This is something that I have found some continental museums lacking in.Leaflets were available in English, Italian, German, Spanish and Russian. However, the text on these information levels was written at an academic level. I found it hard to find out about the themes in the exhibition and had to come to my own assumptions and conclusions from the academic text. I feel that a simpler form of writing and explaining could have been more effective.

What appealed to me most was the representation of the changing roles of women from the early 20th Century to the 21st Century. The photographs were laid out in a somewhat chronological order, from women simply as ‘muses’ to women working, voting etc. The photographs also charted the rapid change of female fashion in the 20th century. This change in fashion happened in tandem with the more active role in society women played.  I am very interested in the representation of women going from being simply muses for artists and photographers to becoming important members of society, even becoming famous photographer’s themselves.

One of the most famous female photographers represented in the exhibitions was Gertrude Kasebier .  Gertrude, was one of the famous American photographer’s of the early 20th century. She also promoted the idea that a career in photography was suitable for women as well as pioneering early colour printing processes. Gertrude Kasebier took portraits of the American ‘aristocracy,’ Silent film stars and Native Americans. Her work charted the changing role of the American women in the early 20th century. Hence, why her work from the Turello collection was chosen to be displayed. Here are some examples of her work:

                                                                                  ‘Hotel in Venice,’ Gertrude Kasebier, 1905.

‘Self Portrait,’ Gertrude Kasebier, 1908.

Overall, the ethos of the exhibition was well displayed and explained throughout the ‘Theatre Photographie.’ The information was clear, concise and to the point. The juxtaposition of the Matisse sculptures with the photographs clearly displayed the changing role of women over the past 100 years. The exhibition also successfully displayed the work of prominent photographers and the changes in photography itself.

Where it was let down was the ‘stiff’ language of the information leaflets in various languages. This may have been due to a French speaking person translating the French version into Enlgish or it was written by an academic person. I also felt the lighting was too ‘bright’ and some photographs were hard to view because of this. The lighting was so bright in some places it bounced of the glass of the frames, distorting the image and the context of the piece.

However, I enjoyed this exhibition overall of the exhibitions I visited in Nice and Italy. I highly recommend a visit to the ‘Theatre Photographie’ if you are ever in Nice!

Until next time, Au Revoir!

Images (c) Theatre Photographie and various sources.

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