If you're looking for something cultural to do in Chicago this spring (as if finding something were difficult!), go to the Art Institute and see the Matisse exhibit! The exhibit is free, very well done, and displays Matisse's works between the years of 1913 and 1917.
This particular period was a time of upheaval in France, and Matisse's works show a lot of change as he developed his own modern technique. Matisse was very concerned with the process of construction in his artwork, reworking and layering his canvases, producing extensive series on the same subject. One of the ways of being able to completely focus on the construction, was to use a monochromatic palette - many of his pieces from this time period are dominated by blues and greys.
A large part of the exhibit displayed his printmaking - etchings and monotypes. These were of friends and relatives - all full of expression; each with that recognizable Matisse-style eye.
During the most difficult part of the war, in 1916, Matisse returned to earlier themes that he was able to rework and return to during the tumultuous time that took his concerns elsewhere. His reworking of his pieces might seem at first to be a little obsessive but Matisse insisted that “One should be able to rework a masterpiece at least once, to be very sure that one has not fallen victim—to one’s nerves or to fate.”
The exhibit contained many examples of his sculpture as well, including his famous "Back" series. The second in the series is pictured here.
If just the exhibit isn't enough to entice you, on Thursday, April 15th at 6pm, there is a concert at the Institute of French music in synch with the spirit of Matisse's works featuring pieces by Poulenc, Ibert and Defaye. If music isn't your thing, on April 18th at 3pm at the Art Institute, there is a Matisse-inspired cooking class, which teaches recipes from the significant areas where he worked! How fabulous!
My favorite painting from the exhibit was the "Branch of Lilacs" pictured here.