Henry Matisse is by far the most famous of the artists who visited and worked in Tangier. There were many artists, musicians, and writers who were drawn to Morocco and to Tangier specifically for inspiration. It is fun to explore and discover those people and the work they did here.
The artist lived in Tangier in 1912 for one year. He lived in room thirty-five at the Hotel Ville de France, which is located just down the hill from my apartment before you get to the Grand Socco. You can enter the hotel and visit the room, which still has the number 35 on the door. It is on the second floor and the other rooms have numbers starting with two hundred.
In the room are copies of some of the paintings Matisse completed while living there including the most famous one titled, Window in Tangier. The painting is the view from one of the hotel windows. The painting was sold directly by Matisse in Paris to a Russian collector, Ivan Morozov. After the Russian Revolution, the painting was confiscated. By 1948, it was donated to the public and now hangs in the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.
Matisse became interested in Islamic art of North Africa and his bold colors reflect the influence of African art on his work. Matisse searched for a new way to paint Morocco that was different than artists such as Jean Leon Gerome. He looked at the foliage, the designs of the buildings and textiles, the spectacular light, and the colors.
My research indicates that the last major exhibit showing the works of Matisse in Morocco was in 1990 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Oh how I wish I could see these works, but as of now, that will require a trip to Russia. It’s on my list.