The intimacy of Mr. Matisse’s interiors touched me—like a poem affects each person differently at different points in your life.
—Janet Taylor Pickett
Beginning this Saturday, September 10, 2016, Montclair Art Museum presents its second solo exhibition of esteemed artist Janet Taylor Pickett, Janet Taylor Pickett: The Matisse Series. The exhibition explores the dialogue between Taylor Pickett’s artwork and that of renowned French artist Henri Matisse. Featuring more than 76 collages and four handmade books, it spotlights the ongoing creative conversation between the two artists and the profound impact of Matisse on Taylor Pickett’s art. It is on view through June 18, 2017.
Painter, mixed media, collage artist, and professor, Janet Taylor Pickett is known for using the dress form as an iconic template to respond to life’s profound changes. She says, “I’ve used it as a vessel to fill, to identify, and to express my journey as an African American woman, daughter, mother, and artist.” A highlight of the exhibition will be the installation of Sixty Six Dresses: An Odyssey, 2014-15. Referring to the artist’s age at the time of its creation, this work will be augmented by two additional collaged dresses to match her current age when the exhibition opens.
In many of her dresses, Taylor Pickett juxtaposes images of African sculpture, textiles, and cultural elements, with details from Matisse’s work, typically procured from exhibition catalogue reproductions. This multicultural dialogue is at the heart of her complex, archetypal creations, which often feature portraits of the artist herself. The artist’s interest in light, color, and multiple perspectives is also pervasive in some of her recent works, in which she combines elements of Matisse’s work with tripartite spaces evoking medieval altarpieces, unifying past and present.
This is the second time the artist has been featured in a one-person show at MAM; the first, More than One Way Home, in 1997, was a 25-year mid-career survey. She currently resides in Pasadena, California.
Taylor Pickett earned her BFA and MFA from the University of Michigan, where she was the recipient of a Ford Foundation grant. She has received fellowships from the Brandywine Workshop (Philadelphia, PA), the Pilchuck Glass School (Stanwood, WA), and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She has completed public art commissions for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Johnson and Johnson (Skillman, NJ), and Washington State Council on the Arts. MAM has several of her works in its permanent collection, which houses an impressive group of works by African American and women artists. Her work has been exhibited throughout the world, and is also in the permanent collections of the Studio Museum in Harlem, Newark Museum, and the Schomburg Center (NY, NY), as well as in many private and corporate collections.
Taylor Pickett will also be represented in two concurrent complementary exhibitions, Matisse and American Art and Inspired by Matisse: Selected Works from the Collection, opening February 2017. She will also be spotlighted at the 30th Annual Julia Norton Babson Lecture on October 13, and teach a Master Class in the Museum's Yard School of Art October 16.
Janet Taylor Pickett: The Matisse Series is co-organized by Kathy Imlay, independent curator and director of Imlay Gallery; and Gail Stavitsky, MAM chief curator.