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The nude eventually became Matisse’s principal focus of attention. It was the mirror that helped him to investigate the values of pictorial form more profoundly. Matisse studied this issue systematically, alternating painting with drawing and sculpture. Ultimately, the most obvious achievement within his “painting of intimacy” would be the sculpture Large Seated Nude of 1922-1929, based on Michelangelo’s nudes for the Medici Chapel in Florence.

The tone of Matisse’s works abruptly changed in 1930, and from the intimacy of his domestic interiors he jumped to decorative painting and with it the heroic nude. The period from 1930 to 1933 was a parenthesis marked by a clear tension between two extremes: static, monumental form took shape sculpturally in Back IV (1930), while luminous form in movement was expressed pictorially in The Dance (1930-1933) for the Barnes Foundation.

The Circus
Two Odalisques, One Undressed, Ornamental Backgound and Checkerboard
Back IV
© Succession H. Matisse / VEGAP 2009

Henri Matisse
Two Odalisques, One Undressed, Ornamental Backgound and Checkerboard, 1928
(Deux Odalisques dont l’une dévetue, fond ornemental et damier)
Oil on canvas. 54 x 65 cm
Moderna Museet, Stockholm
Henri Matisse
Odalisque with a Tambourine, 1925–26
(Odalisque au tambourin)
Oil on canvas. 74,3 x 55,6 cm
The Museum of Modern Art, New York.
The William S. Paley Collection, 1990
Henri Matisse
Back IV, 1930
(Nu de dos IV)
Cast bronze. 190 x 116 x 16 cm
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
Henri Matisse
Study for the Dance Mural Composition, second version, 1932–33
(La Danse – deuxième versión, étude d’ensemble)
Pencil on paper. 20,7 x 53,3 cm
Musée Matisse, Nice
Gift of the Artists Heirs, 1960
Odalisque with a Tambourine