Matisse Died

by Sandy Nelson on May 12, 2011

Three little girls sitting on a step reading on a sunny, delightful Spring afternoon. One, our 3.5 year old, Gabriella Grace, says assertively to her friend Pia,

“Pia, Matisse died”.

Gardening nearby, I stop to listen.

Pia responds, “Who’s Matisse?”

G repeats, “Matisse died.”

I dive in: “Matisse was a famous artist whose life spanned the 19th and 20th Centuries.”

“Oh”, Pia responds, with no apparent interest in hearing more.

Play resumes.

The girls read on, and I go back to weeding.

My thoughts, on the other hand are engaged by this simple statement—Matisse died.

Indeed he did.

Henri Matisse was born on December 31, 1869 and died on November 3, 1954. He left behind an indelible collection of art. Spanning from that famous view over the balcony of his apartment in Collioure, the forward tilted table top hosting an array of found objects—fruit, a pitcher, dishes, etc., The Dance, and, of course, the cut outs from his final day as a bed-ridden invalid.

When we die, you and I, what will we leave behind?


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