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A new exhibition of more than 100 Matisse paintings is coming to Sydney

Matisse 2020 AGNSW supplied
Photo © Philippe Migeat, Centre Pompidou Henri Matisse, 'The sorrow of the king (La tristesse du roi)' 1952

We've still got more than a year to wait, but the Art Gallery of NSW has just announced it will host the biggest exhibition of works by French master painter Henri Matisse ever seen in Australia. More than 100 artworks will be part of Matisse: Life & Spirit, Masterpieces From the Centre Pompidou, Paris, at the AGNSW from November 2020 to March 2021.

The works are mostly drawn from Paris's Centre Pompidou, home to the largest museum for modern art in Europe. The AGNSW says the exhibition has been in the works for five years. It will cover six decades of Matisse's work, starting with his early days as a fauvist (an artist more about "painterly qualities" than clear representation), through his superstar phase in the mid-1920s and '30s to the cut-out artworks of his later career. There'll be several works never before seen in Australia, including the imposing collage work above, an almost four-metre wide canvas completed in 1952, two years before his death. 

While Matisse's style is instantly recognisable, it also evolved enormously over the course of his career, which should make for a dynamic experience. He was massively influential, and the AGNSW will be inviting a number of contemporary artists to respond to his legacy, including Angela Tiatia, who'll make a work in response to Matisse's time in Tahiti.

The exhibition is part of the Sydney International Art Series, which this year includes the AGNSW's Japan Supernatural.

Check out the best exhibitions in Sydney this month and take yourself on a tour of our city's most beautiful public art.