Matisse was a renowned 20th-century French artist. He was studying law when, while recovering from an illness, he began to paint. That experience led to his decision to become a professional artist; he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts and other art schools. His work was displayed beside that of Rouault, Marquet, and Vlaminck at the Salon d’Automne in 1905. Because of their bold use of color and the energy of their brushwork, they were called the Fauves, the wild beasts. Matisse later strove for effects based on use of a simplified color plane. From 1916, he frequently resided in the south of France. His use of paper cuts as a major technique began in 1940. To create them, assistants applied color to paper, and Matisse used scissors to cut out the forms and assemble them to create collages.
In 1951, before the Bridgestone Museum of Art opened, Ishibashi Shojiro received a book from Matisse, autographed by the author. The autograph included a message thanking Ishibashi, the Bridgestone Museum of Art’s founder, for lending works from his collection for Japan’s first Matisse exhibition, at the Tokyo National Museum.
In 1952, immediately after the opening of the Bridgestone Museum of Art, an exhibition of small works by Matisse was held at our museum. A memorial exhibition was also held in 1954, after Matisse’s death, using works from our collection. Art historian Bernard Dorival, then the assistant head creator of the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, who was then visiting Japan, praised our collection of works by Matisse, saying,
“It was probably the Bridgestone Museum of Art that was the first, mourning the death of the great Matisse, to express its sincere grief through an exhibition of his work. That was possible because its collection encapsulates the history of Matisse’s art. The works in its permanent collection were used in this, the very first, memorial exhibition.”
At present, the Bridgestone Museum of Art’s collection includes 10 oil paintings and 26 works on paper by Matisse, 36 works in all. In both the quantity and quality of works by Matisse, this collection is unrivaled by other museums in Japan.