Matisse & Picasso

NGA Matisse & PicassoTogether they charted a new course for modern European art in the 20th Century – and for the first time Australian audiences will be able to see the work of two of history’s greatest artistic rivals side by side in the National Gallery of Australia’s major summer exhibition, Matisse & Picasso.

The exhibition traces the turbulent relationship of Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso from its early days during the belle epoque heyday of Paris, through their decades of jockeying for artistic ascendency. This enduring symbiosis continued after Matisse’s death in 1954, as Picasso’s remembrance for his friend continued to reveal itself in his art.

Curated by the National Gallery of Australia’s Head of International Art, Dr Jane Kinsman, Matisse & Picasso draws on more than 200 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, illustrated books and costumes to tell a story of these two masters never-before-told in Australia.

The exhibition brings together numerous works that are rarely seen together – made possible through the generosity of more than 20 private and institutional lenders, including institutions in Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States, South America and Australia including Musée Picasso, Paris, Tate, London and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, as well as private lenders in Australia, England and France. It also draws on the National Gallery’s own extensive collection of works by Matisse and Picasso.

National Gallery of Australia Director Nick Mitzevich said Matisse and Picasso were both radicals, taking art in a new direction. “Each used the other as an artistic foil and drew inspiration from their rivalry, which spurred their creative brilliance to even greater heights. This creative friction – over half a century of artistic rivalry – turned the art world as we knew it on its head,” said Mr Mitzevich.

For the first time, Australian audiences will learn about the powerful connection between Matisse and Picasso; each used the other as an artistic foil and drew inspiration from their rivalry, which spurred their creative brilliance to even greater heights. Over half a century, as these artistic opponents took modernism in a new direction, their intense relationship masked a grudging respect.

Matisse and Picasso felt they were each without peer – except for each other. After the death of his friend in 1954, Picasso acknowledged the influence Matisse had on his own career. “Nobody ever looked at Matisse’s work as thoroughly as I did. And he at mine.”

See the story of Matisse and Picasso’s passionate relationship told through their works of art, many in the southern hemisphere for the first time.

Matisse & Picasso
National Gallery of Australia, Parkes Place, Parkes (Canberra)
Exhibition continues to 13 April 2020
Entry fees apply

For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Pablo Picasso, Woman from Arles (Lee Miller) [L’Arlésienne (Lee Miller)] 1937 oil on canvas Private international collection © Succession Picasso/Copyright Agency / Henri Matisse, Plaster figure, bouquet of flowers [Le Torse de plâtre, bouquet de fleurs] 1919 Purchase, 1958 Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo Assis Chateaubriand © Succession H. Matisse/Copyright Agency