Matisse: Life & Spirit Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou, Paris

Henri-Matisse-Polynesia-the-sky-(Polynésie,-le-ciel) 1946Exclusive to Sydney this summer, discover the major exhibition Matisse: Life & Spirit, Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou, Paris at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, featuring more than 100 works of brilliant colour and inventiveness by French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954).

Presented as part of the Sydney International Art Series 2021–22, this monumental exhibition has been developed by the Art Gallery of NSW in collaboration with France’s leading modern art museum, Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne.

The exhibition is curated by Centre Pompidou curator of modern collections Dr Aurélie Verdier, with Art Gallery of NSW head curator of international art Justin Paton and special exhibitions curator Jackie Dunn.

Matisse: Life & Spirit is the single greatest exhibition of Matisse works to be seen in Sydney, including the largest display seen in Australia of the artist’s triumphant late ‘cut-outs’. Comprising paintings, drawings and sculptures, the exhibition reveals how Matisse constantly renewed and revitalised his art across six decades.

A dedicated section in the exhibition celebrates Matisse’s engagement with the Pacific region, in particular a significant voyage to Tahiti in the 1930s. Only a few paintings and works on paper emerged from this experience, but in the 1940s – when Matisse was in his mid-seventies – he developed his famous cut-out technique, returning to Tahitian memories of the sea and sky, and other oceanic forms.

Central to the exhibition is a special presentation devoted to the artist’s Chapel of the Rosary in Vence (France) which the artist considered to be the culmination of his life’s work. This display features a suite of life-size maquettes for the chapel’s stained glass windows, on loan from the Centre Pompidou and represented in a beautiful space designed by renowned Australian architect Richard Johnson.

Art Gallery of NSW director Dr Michael Brand said he is extremely proud to collaborate with his international colleagues to bring one of the world’s greatest collections of Matisse’s works to Sydney.

“We are deeply grateful to the Centre Pompidou for their extraordinary generosity allowing so many treasures of France to come to Sydney,” he said. “I would like to especially acknowledge the loan of the masterpiece, The sorrow of the king, made in 1952, which was Matisse’s final self-portrait.”

“The Art Gallery’s presentation of Matisse’s masterworks has been guided by the words “life” and “spirit”, inviting visitors to experience the vitality and energy of Matisse and his world,” said Dr Brand.

Matisse: Life & Spirit is made possible with the support of the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW. The exhibition is part of the Sydney International Art Series, bringing the world’s most outstanding exhibitions to Australia, exclusively to Sydney.

The health and safety of visitors is a priority for the Art Gallery, which is closely following NSW Public Health Orders. Visitors are required to comply with Public Health Orders and are encouraged to plan their visit by reviewing the COVID-safe guidelines on the website.

Matisse: Life & Spirit, Masterpieces from the Centre Pompidou, Paris
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery Road, The Domain (Sydney)
Exhibition continues to 13 March 2022
Entry fees apply

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Henri Matisse, Polynesia, the sky (Polynésie, le ciel) 1946, Centre Pompidou, Paris, MNAM-CCI, from Mobilier national et Manufactures des Gobelins, de Beauvais et de la Savonnerie since 1975 AM 1975-DEP 13 © Succession H Matisse/Copyright Agency 2021, photo © Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI / Bertrand Prévost / Dist RMN-GP