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Morrice and Lyman in the Company of Matisse

Morrice and Lyman in the Company of Matisse
Essays by Francois Gagnon, Michele Grandbois and John O'Brian
Firefly Books, 2014
hardcover, 256 pages

A fabulous catalogue, paralleling two Canadian artists, with Henri Matisse. Their similarities of subject matter and style is a delight and a wonder.

James Wilson Morrice (1869-1954) was an important Canadian Impressionist painter working in Canada, France and North Africa. American-born John Lyman (1886-1967) was a Canadian Modernist artist who spent most of his lengthy career in Montreal. Early in their artistic lives, the two met in Paris where they attended the Academie Julian.

Both artists crossed paths with master French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954) in different ways and at different times over their careers, and he became a formidable influence. Their encounters in France and North Africa, occurring over the early decades of the 20th century, were decisive for their respective art, and the development of Canadian modernist art. A century later, Morrice, Lyman and Matisse's work is still influential.

In the fall of 2014, Morrice, Lyman and Matisse are the subjects of a large exhibition, Morrice and Lyman: In the Company of Matisse to be held at the Musee National des Beaux-arts du Quebec, and at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, two of Canada's most important art institutions and visitor destinations.

Morrice and Lyman: In the Company of Matisse is a beautiful companion to the exhibition that is expected to be attract thousands of visitors. Illustrated essays by noted art historians, interspersed with wide-ranging portfolios of work by the artists, compare and contrast the artists' individual and common artistic outlooks and output. The book's 150 full-colour reproductions by all three painters and archival photographs show Morrice's and Lyman's personal quest for the light, color, balance and serenity permeating the art of revolutionary painters such as Matisse. The light shines through every painting.

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