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Matisse’s Scale: What’s with the Bamboo Stick?

By Yve-Alain Bois Published 2017

Matisse’s Scale: What’s with the Bamboo Stick? - Yve-Alain Bois

In this public lecture, held at the Institute on May 5, 2017,  Yve-Alain Bois, Professor in the School of Historical Studies, focuses on Matisse's use of the bamboo stick in large-scale works and the bodily conception of scale it entails. In a photograph dating from 1931, Matisse is shown sketching The Dance—a gigantic mural commissioned by Albert Barnes for his foundation—with his charcoal at the end of a six-foot bamboo stick. This unusual practice stems from the artist’s discovery that squaring up a small sketch, as has been the standard procedure for large paintings and murals, was incompatible with his aesthetic.