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Henri Matisse: A Retrospective

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This year’s art extravaganza, the Museum of Modern Art’s Matisse retrospective is the most comprehensive show of the artist ever mounted. There is no next-best thing to seeing the exhibit itself, but Henri Matisse: A Retrospective, with its 592 illustrations (320 of them in color) and text by John Elderfield, the show’s organizer, packs a lot of pleasure. In an age in which artists feel obliged to reflect the fragmentation, suffering, and disillusionment of the times, Matisse is likely to shock you with his persistent passion for people and rooms wrapped in beauty. A