Over the coming years, the Fondation Beyeler will conduct an extensive conservation project with the generous support of Nationale Suisse. Its purpose is a scholarly investigation and conservation of Henri Matisse’s Acanthes (1953), a major work from the series of large-format “papiers découpés.”
Ernst Beyeler early on recognized the significance of these works, which were long underestimated and today are practically unobtainable in the art market. In 1960 he acquired two cut-outs for his collection from the Matisse Family holdings: Nu bleu I (1952, 106 x 78 cm), a veritable icon of modernism and one of the most prominent works in the Fondation Beyeler, and Acanthes (1953, 311 x 350.5 cm), an equally monumental and joyous “décoration,” to use the artist’s own term.
Despite its large format, Acanthes is fortunately in a very good state of preservation. The work consists of several layers – wood panel, canvas, various papers, paints and pigments. It is this very mixture that poses problems for long-term preservation, as the different aging processes of the materials and resulting damage have already been observed in comparable works.
For this reason, our interdisciplinary project goes beyond painting and paper conservation to encompass an art-historical investigation. To do justice to this major and complex work of art, international experts in various relevant fields will be recruited to contribute to the investigation.
Beginning March 30, 2010, museum visitors will have the opportunity to observe the conservation process in a room specially equipped for the purpose.
The present website will keep you up to date on the progress of conservation and the latest insights gained in the course of the project.
Credit: Acanthes, 1953 © Succession Henri Matisse / ProLitteris, Zurich