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Henri Matisse
The Conversation
Hermitage Museum

by Charlie Finch

Hard to believe that it has been 18 years since John Elderfield's masterful Matisse retrospective opened at the Museum of Modern Art. The room that best distinguished that exhibition starkly presented the ground-shifting period of 1913 to 1917, also the subject of the current Matisse meditation at MoMA. At the time, the simple and austere presentation of the period in the artist's development amazed critics and the public alike, a very different curatorial arrangement than the neurotically scientific approach to Matisse in the current show.