Matisse: The Books
Louise Rogers Lalaurie
The livre d’artiste, or “artist’s book,” is among the most prized in rare book collections. Henri Matisse (1869–1954) was one of the greatest artists to work in this genre, and he created his most important during a period of intense personal and physical suffering. Brimming with powerful themes and imagery, these works are crucial to understanding Matisse’s oeuvre.
With deftness and sensitivity, Louise Rogers Lalaurie reintroduces us to Matisse by considering how in each volume, Matisse constructed an intriguing dialogue between word and image. Examining this page-by-page interplay, translating key sequences, and discussing the books’ distinct themes and production histories, Lalaurie offers the thoughtful analysis these works deserve. Together Matisse’s artist books reveal his deep engagement with questions of beauty and truth; his faith; his perspectives on aging, loss, and inspiration; and his relationship to his critics, the French art establishment, and the women in his life. In addition, Lalaurie illuminates Matisse’s often misunderstood political affinities—though Matisse was vilified in his time for choosing to live in the collaborationist Vichy zone, his wartime books reveal a body of work that stands as a deeply personal statement of resistance.
Lavishly illustrated, Matisse: The Books showcases a rich group of underappreciated works and brings unprecedented clarity to a controversial period in the artist’s life.