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Legion of Honor Presents Illustrative Side of Henri Matisse

Currently, the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco is presenting the exhibition Matisse from SFMOMA, displaying works from the artist collected from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), as part of the museum’s traveling exhibitions during its closure for expansion in 2016.

Now on January 11, the Legion of Honor will present another side of Henri Matisse, as an illustrator. The exhibition Matisse and the Artist Book, compiles of artists’ books (or livres d’artiste) which the artist created from the time he turned sixty. Many of them have been considered to be 20th Century masterpieces of the illustrating genre, and seven of these rare books, including Poésies (1932) and Pasiphaé (1944), which will be in conjunction with the Matisse from SFMOMA exhibition (on view until September 7th).

As stated by the Legion’s website at, Matisse was intrigued as well as challenged by book illustration and design, and often took months to prepare pictorial concept. In the 1946 essay “How I Did My Books”, Matisse stated to draw no distinction between the constructions of a book and painting, thus moving from the simple to the complex. It would be something that would be mastered in the featured books including Pasiphaé with its delicate linocuts, and Poésies with it’s arabesques-modified etchings.

Matisse and the Artist Book is on view until October 12th.

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