A life's work


Seen from the road outside the town of Vence in the south of France, the small, unprepossessing building probably wouldn't compel a second look. But step inside the Chapel of the Rosary, better known as the Matisse Chapel, and you're in one of the most luminous, beautiful spaces on the planet. Its power comes from its simplicity -- white walls and simple, powerful drawings, including one wall showing the 14 stations of the cross, with the only color coming from natural light streaming through striking blue, green and bright yellow stained glass windows. Matisse himself said, "For me, this chapel is the achievement of an entire life's work, the outcome of tremendous, difficult, sincere effort. This is not work I chose, but rather work for which I was chosen by fate when at the end of my road..." He created it late in his life, beginning in 1947 when he was 77 and culminating in the blessing of the chapel in 1951. If you admire Matisse, if you admire art, you owe it to yourself to visit this remarkable place.