The postcard from Amsterdam bearing these words marked the beginning of an important correspondence between the two painters. The exchange of letters, which lasted until 1946, makes their mutual appreciation very clear. The Städel’s large-scale special exhibition sheds light on a friendship lasting more than forty years, presenting the relationship in the context of their contribution to modern art and revealing its broader significance for their work.
With over 100 paintings, sculptures, and drawings, the show opens a dialogue between the two artists, offering new perspectives on the development of the European avant-garde from the beginning of the 20th century to the end of the Second World War. The closeness of the relationship is underlined by the two painters’ intense engagement with very similar subjects. A number of chapters addressing these central themes – including Interiors, Still Life, Landscape, and Nude – illustrate the sheer variety of the artistic results.
The exhibits on display include masterpieces from leading international collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Tate Modern in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington. This extensive selection of works is enhanced by a series of photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson, who visited both Bonnard and Matisse in the south of France in 1944.