Henri was Jackie Matisse’s granddad; she helped her stepfather, Marcel Duchamp, with the construction of his “portable museums.” Some might have wilted under such a legacy. Instead, this septuagenarian artist has combined the bold compositions and formal revolutions of her heritage, leavened them with Arte Povera, and blazed her own trail on gallery walls and video screens, underwater, and across the sky.
A selection of Matisse’s kite art—vibrant cloth sails and rainbow-saturated crepe paper tails—anchors a body of work that has a strong physical presence and a radiant spirit. Using rigid piano wire, Matisse has constructed skeletal boxes containing street flotsam—bits of foil, wood, plastic toys, newsprint, feathers—suspended by strands of human hair from “many different people.” (The framework for Magic Hair No. 1, 1968, is meant to evoke a Paris cobblestone, and the artist confides, “the hair is a very small one,” implying that some were making love, not war, during the May revolts.) Elsewhere, tiny streamers swirl in bottles of water (magnets propel their weightless, chromatic dance), and virtual-reality kites vie for prominence in a pixel sky. Sweet yet determined, this work exhibits no fear of flying.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 7, 2005