Sophie Matisse is an international contemporary artist. She initially gained notoriety for her series, Be back in 5 Minutes, in which she recreated famous old master paintings while erasing the figures.

Media coverage is often quick to note Sophie’s family background; an art pedigree originating with her great grandfather, Henri Matisse. Britain’s Sunday Telegraph once referred to Sophie as ”Art Royalty”, a term occasionally paraphrased when discussing this artist and her work.

Born in 1965 and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts, having what’s been described as a hippie childhood. Her father, Paul, is a sculptor

and inventor. Sarah, Sophie’s mother, is a retired Chef for a private banking firm in Boston.

Making no secret of her occasionally agonizing Dyslexia beginning in her early childhood, Sophie found remedy through creative pursuits. She began her studies at the Massachusetts Collage of Art and Design in Boston. In 1986 she moved to Paris and attended L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts, the same institution where her great grandfather studied decades earlier. During the years, Sophie attended the French art school, most weekends were spent with her Grandmother, Teeny, near Fontainebleau. After divorcing with Pierre Matisse, Teeny married Marcel Duchamp in 1954. While continuing her studies    in    Paris,   Sophie    met   Pop     artist,

Alain Jacquet, whom she married in 1992. One year later, their daughter, Gaia, was born in Paris.

In 1996, Sophie settled in New York City, setting up her studio in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood. She soon began exhibiting her work. Her rendition of the Mona Lisa (from the series, Be Back in 5 Minutes) initiated art world interest, which would jump-start her career. In the painting, Sophie faithfully replicated the setting of Leonardo da Vinci’s original, while omitting the famous figure from the painting. It would be the first of what later would become her signature, Absentee series.

The  Absentee  paintings gave   Sophie   her first

both Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.

Later that year, Sophie also participated in a project curated by Dodie Kazanjian for Vogue Magazine, “Self Portraits: A Vogue Portfolio” appeared in print as a ten-page feature in the December 2003 issue. As the title suggests, each artist submitted a self-portrait. Sophie was featured among other woman artist of her generation such as Kiki Smith, Elizabeth Peyton and Lisa Yuskavage among others. Sophie’s contribution was an Absentee interpretation of Gustave Courbet’s erotic painting, Origin of the World. This time removing the 19th century French painter’s graphically portrayed nude subject, leaving only the rumpled bed sheets. The   collections of   portraits were exhibited   at

wide spread exposure as an artist in her own right, and would inform her work for years thereafter. In 2003, she added Pablo Picasso’s Guernica to the number of paintings she reinterpreted. This time, however, no figures were removed as brilliant colors replaced the original black and white newspaper tones. Responding directly to the tragedies of the World Trade Center attacks in 2001, Sophie felt the need to reiterate the message of Picasso’s monochromatic Guernica, but by using a more contemporary language of television inspired colors. Her close to life-size version yielded many smaller studies in gouache, which culminated in her, “Sophie Matisse Does Guernica” exhibition at the New York based Francis Naumann Gallery in 2003. The exhibition dates coincided with the Museum of Modern  Art’s   duel survey exhibiting the  works   of

Deitch Projects at the Soho gallery space at the time of the publication.

In 2004, Sophie began a new series entitled, the “Zebra Stripe Paintings”. Once again borrowing historically significant images from art history, only this time, weaving them with her own abstract imagery through a zebra stripe shaped pattern. The borrowed images, though, are more obscured as they are forced to share the canvas space with her colorful contemporary abstractions, rendering the familiar images less identifiable. Even the artist herself, has often joked that her Dyslexia may have actually helped her in creating these works. The series has been compared to James Rosenquist’s later works, juxtaposing      and      overlapping      seemingly

case. Each of the limited editions bore a unique design.

For an exhibition titled, “The Art of the Game”, coinciding with San Diago’s “Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair” in 2009, Sophie painted eight chess sets of her own design. She considered her participation a living tribute to the games presence in her own family in general and her own upbringings.

In 2010, Sophie also participated in the New York installment of an international campaign produced by the non-profit group, Sing For Hope. The project called for sixty pianos to be placed in specific public locations in and around certain  chosen   cities.   In this   case  New  York.

unrelated imagery. Sophie continued to explore and develop her unique perspective with her next series, Ribbons in 2008. In this series, she divides the surface into brightly colored interlocking shapes and introduces enlarged details from her smaller gouache paintings done years earlier. Only a sparse floating ribbon makes reference to the recognizable paintings of the past.

Matisse has provided artwork in collaboration with business interests and also in support of charitable causes. In 2008, she collaborated with Kilian Hennessy, heir to the Hennessy lineage of cognac makers, providing artwork for a line of fragrances. Sophie added her personal expression to fifty bottles of By Kilian perfumes, hand painting, signing and numbering  every   bottle  along with   its  lacquered

Each hand painted by participating artists. Sophie painted four donated pianos. Her work was later displayed in the lobby of Avery Fisher Hall and Lincoln Center promenade before being donated to a small music school in Afghanistan and to the New York Presbyterian Hospital’s Pediatric Department.

In Sophie’s 2012 series, It’s Time, the awareness of the passage of time takes precedence as she lets go entirely of any references to art history. Exploring new imagery, such as Arabic calligraphy, even at times reorienting the words. These collage like paintings are filled with calligraphy displaying photographic images of luxury brand watch faces, suggesting the continual  passage of change.   By incorporating

language, Matisse expands the realm of seeing to include reading. Either for the meaning of the words or simply for the visual impact of the letterforms. This flickering between seeing and reading reverberates throughout this series only to continue more so in her following work.

Currently, Sophie is working on a new series of small intimate gouache works on paper in which she continues to explore the nature of life’s continuously evolving perceptions. Using her own imagery coupled often with iconic commercial and luxury brand logos, words and numbers, one’s attention is consistently refocused and reconfigured through the interaction of these varying vocabularies that the artist has layer out for us too, to explore.