Matisse Alive

Sally Smart

October 2021 – 2022


The Art Gallery of NSW presents a gallery-wide festival of Matisse, offering visitors the chance to further explore the life, art and influence of one of the world’s most celebrated artists.

Flooding the Gallery with colour and energy, this free program of art, music, performance, dance and community celebrates Matisse’s art as an inspiration and point of orientation for artists today.


At the heart of Matisse Alive are four new artist projects that present contemporary perspectives on this ‘modern master’ and focus especially on his imagining of the Pacific and his representation of the female figure. Ranging from dynamic textile environments to heroically scaled paintings and an immersive video work, these projects are by Nina Chanel Abney (US), Sally Smart (Australia), Angela Tiatia (Samoa/NZ/Australia) and Robin White (NZ).


The presence of the Pacific in Matisse’s imagination is further explored with a stunning display of tifaifai and tivaevae – the Polynesian art of quilting. The electrifying display of colour, design, community and culture reveals the textile tradition that profoundly influenced Matisse’s late great works, the ‘cut-outs’.


A presentation of collection highlights explores Matisse’s visions of domestic spaces, revealing how contemporary artists including Betty Woodman and Kamrooz Aram have shaped spaces of intimacy and contemplation.


Matisse Alive also offers an artist’s project space with interactive activities for kids and families.

October 1, 2021
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