As I approach the first anniversary in my current apartment, I’ve begun to view the spare white walls of my bedroom more critically. Currently, I’ve only managed to hang two prints: a vintage Fiorucci poster and a movie poster that features a young Keanu Reeves. Both are from college and only the former is framed. My need for some new wall coverings might be why once I first spotted Henri Matisse’s Blue Nude print — while virtually stalking art director Madelynn Furlong’s feed — I couldn’t stop seeing it. It popped up in photos of other immaculately decorated homes, including the Zoe Report’s senior fashion editor, Aemilia Madden, then travel influencer Olivia Lopez. By the time I realized Caroline Calloway had been hawking cutouts of the print on Instagram — traced on expensive, star-strewn paper — I figured we had hit peak Matisse mania.
“It’s so funny, my best friend has this print, too,” said interior designer Sasha Bikoff when I asked her about it. She chalks up its popularity to its versatility: it’s organic yet whimsical, simple but still interesting. “I have a vintage Matisse print in my apartment right now. It’s not the Blue Nude, it’s the dancing one with the little star,” says Abigail Campbell, owner of Brooklyn-based Abigail Bell Vintage. She also points to the print’s adaptability. It can fit in a variety of home design styles, including everything from “a higher-end Danish-style home with lots of plants” to a “super colorful home with Memphis-style furniture.” Madden, who scored her vintage print on Chairish, says she has seen similar prints appearing increasingly over the last year, “often at cafés, spas, and even my favorite yoga studio, Sky Ting.
Lumi Tan, curator at the nonprofit art space The Kitchen, says the popularity of the posters are deeply connected to the timing of MoMA’s “Matisse: The Cut-Outs” show in 2014, which had traveled from the Tate Modern, calling it a “huge blockbuster exhibition” in both cities. “The pared-down shapes and bright colors made the work more accessible to different kinds of viewers, and was coincidentally perfectly tuned into the current clean yet punchy palettes of Instagrammable design aesthetics.” This is particularly clear when looking at a piece like Blue Nude which, while being quite formally complex, “has an immediate graphic impact,” she says. New York Magazine senior art critic Jerry Saltz feels the same way: “The intensity of the color and the abstract shape fits perfectly into the pixelated packages on Twitter and Instagram.”
And while it may seem like everyone has the same print, there are actually a range of options available to suit every budget. The most accessible take on the trend is to go for a simple (and inexpensive) reproduction starting from $20 on Amazon. If you’re looking for something a little bit more special, you could also pick up a print at a museum exhibition, where framed prints start at around $225. These often come already framed, and feel a bit more personal than a regular reproduction since they can serve as a reminder of a trip. Lopez picked up her framed print from an exhibition at the Tate Modern in London. And at the most expensive tier, Campbell and Madden recommended splurging on a vintage print, from as early as the ’60s, from places like Etsy, 1stdibs, or Chairish, starting from $300. “It’s really cool to have a piece of history documenting where that collection was at a certain period of time,” says Campbell. “One of my favorite things to collect and find are exhibition posters.”
But the popularity of the print isn’t just due to a love of all things hyper blue: it also speaks to a desire to celebrate bodies. Lopez says she finds the femininity and the pose of the figure to be “quite inviting to the eye.” According to Campbell: “There’s a ton of people who are just really interested in pieces that feature the female form, I feel like those pieces always go super quickly when I have them, and I like to think that it has something to do with female empowerment and people just really owning their bodies more.” So if you bought a butt vase or boob bath mat in the past, the Matisse print’s sensibility might also be right up your alley, but is ostensibly a more sophisticated, timeless choice. According to Saltz, when it comes to feminine beauty, “no one can really beat Matisse.”
If you want a Matisse, but not the Matisse everyone has.
And here is a vintage print at a slightly higher price point.
We also love this exhibition poster from the Grand Palais in Paris from 1970.
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