Henri Matisse

Feb. 5 – Mar. 3, 2019

The Vault

Henri Matisse, <i>Reclining Nude from Florilège des Amours de Ronsard</i>, 1948. Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, gift of Robert Johnson.

Henri Matisse, Reclining Nude from Florilège des Amours de Ronsard, 1948. Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, gift of Robert Johnson.

This work was selected by Christian Perry (class of 2019), who explains: “Where do you draw the line between visual art and writing? Can words be presented as visual art, or can they only bolster visual art? I chose this work largely because of the Pierre de Ronsard poem. I am an English major with a concentration in Creative Writing and I write poetry myself, so seeing this work in the vault really pushes some boundaries relating to what is considered art and how we set those standards. To me, this piece is not just the Matisse, it is the Matisse and the Ronsard. The combination of the works as a single piece asks you a question regarding the body presented. If Ronsard is presenting all of these ‘not’ phrases, then what is? What is the nude doing? Where is the nude at? The whole poem gives us context of ‘what is’ in this list of ‘is not’s.’ But seeing only half of it on this page, we are left to wonder. To fill in the context with ourselves, our own bodies, our own thoughts, our own experiences.”

Translation of Sonnet 60 from Florilège des Amours de Ronsard:

Not seeing roses on fire at the break of day, 
Nor lilies planted on the bank of a stream, 
Nor the sound of the lute, the warbling of birds, 
Nor jewels well-set in gold, 

Nor the open throat of the Zephyr [west wind], 
Nor the creaking of a ship on the sea, 
Nor the dance of Nymphs to the babbling of the water, 
Nor seeing everything blossom in spring, 

Nor an armed camp bristling with spears, 
Nor a cave carpeted with green moss, 
Nor the close-packed treetops in the forest, 

Nor the sacred silence of the rocks—
None give me as much pleasure as that Meadow 
Where my hopes feed without expectation.

The Vault

The Vault, which also houses some of the works from our permanent collection, is dedicated to featuring and displaying works chosen by MSU students who work at the museum. Each month, one of our student gallery guides selects a piece from our collection and writes a short text explaining why they chose it and believe it should be displayed. By providing our gallery guides with an opportunity to participate in the curatorial process of selection and display, we aim to open a dialogue with the student community while simultaneously sharing with the public works from the collection that would otherwise remain in storage.