This exhibition aims to bring a cultural perspective on what was then the Biskra that the artist discovered at the very beginning of the 20th century.
Matisse stayed two weeks in Algeria in the oasis of Biskra and its surroundings in the spring of 1906. He brought back only one painting, Rue à Biskra (Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen), but was profoundly marked by this first contact with the Orient.
Through photographs and postcards of the time, it turns out to be a wintering spa, with many tourist attractions that exploited the cliché orientalist.
Biskra was a tourist city, attracting many foreign visitors in search of an exoticism easy. Among them were artists or writers, some of whom took a different approach: André Gide, who took inspiration from the place to write his novel L'Immoraliste, that of the Czech composer Béla Bartók, and that of Matisse who wrote to his friend Georges Rouault on his return, "I got to know myself a little more". What he learns there, in the midst of the desert and date palms, is definitely to renounce the picturesque exotic, instead of reverie. It is thus, through the specter of a memory now distant that Biskra, its perfume and its colors, reappears in some of the odalisques painted in Nice in the years 1920, while turning to the studios of the Victorine the film of Rex Ingram The Garden of Allah.
Exhibition realized with the assistance of the Institut du monde arabe, Paris.
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