The Matisse on the Patio

A famed artwork commissioned for a couples' patio goes on display.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Archives of Frances Brody
    Henri Matisse's "La Gerbe" was commissioned by a Los Angeles couple for their patio. The made-in-1952 artwork is going on display, in full, at LACMA.

    Do you have a patio? If so, what's there?

    We'll guess a few lawn chairs, maybe, if your patio is like ours or anyone's. Maybe a bag of soil, too, and a few pots, and an old rake or some pool toys. Classic backyard items, in short.

    But, on occasion, a masterpiece by one of the history's great artists shows up on a Los Angeles patio. Not only shows up, but is commissioned specifically for the patio.

    One such case is "La Gerbe," the last commissioned piece of Henri Matisse. Mr. and Mrs. Sidney F. Brody of Los Angeles asked the master to complete the piece in 1952, and the instructions included the fact that the piece would be displayed in the outdoor-adjacent sitting area of their new home, an abode designed by architect A. Quincy Jones.

    This is all rather wonderful and a little whimsical, too; the artist who is so often associated with Fauvism creating a work for an outdoor SoCal setting. Although, perhaps it isn't that outlandish: Monsieur Matisse, and the Fauvists in general, were partial to celebrating The Life Alfresco.

    "La Gerbe" was bequeathed to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art by Frances Brody in 2010. And come Sunday, April 21 the full 2,000-pound, 12-foot by 18-foot piece, a work that Matisse made in Nice, France, will go on display at the museum. 

    It's "the first time in which the ceramic artwork will be on display with the rare, full-scale maquette," we should add. The piece is on loan to LACMA from the Hammer Museum.

    Matisse's paper-cut style is much on display in "La Gerbe," as is his affection for vibrant, deeply drenched hues.

    The piece will on show through Sept. 8 in the Ahmanson Building on the LACMA campus. No, the Ahmanson is not patio like, but we recommend keeping the spirit of the outdoors with you as you view the piece. Maybe a stroll by the tar pits or in the museum's sculpture garden first will set the right, patio-pretty tone.

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