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Matisse and Picasso

I designed a comparative timeline detailing the rivalry, friendship, and dialogue between Matisse and Picasso. The timeline presents the artists’ work side-by-side to illuminate connections between their artwork. It also contextualizes their lives and work within art history.

  • Timeline: March – April 2014
  • Context: University course project
Matisse and Picasso project in museum Matisse and Picasso project

The Problem

I took a course my first year at Carnegie Mellon called “Matisse and Picasso” that examined the lives of the two most important and influential modern artists of all time.

Two years later, I began to conceptualize the final project for my third-year course Mapping and Diagramming. I thought about what sort of study materials I would have liked back when I was in the Matisse and Picasso class. The books we had used were lengthy and detailed, and the information within them was not always presented chronologically. The books sometimes made it easy to get bogged down in details and difficult to visualize the big picture. I also disliked having to flip back and forth between pages to find the images that the texts referenced and to compare artworks.

Matisse and Picasso project Matisse and Picasso project

My Solution

My goal with this project was to create a visual that concisely summarized the relationship between the two artists. I also wanted provide some context so that the relationship was shown relative to each individual’s career and to broader events within art history. Finally, I wanted to present the artists’ work side-by-side, because the visual connections between the pieces can often be stunning and illuminating.

My final piece is a large exhibit-like print project organized as a comparative timeline. I designed the piece to be digestible on multiple levels. Viewers can get a quick sense of the status of the relationship over time; they can easily compare artworks by examining the images displayed side by side; or they can dig deeper to read about specific exchanges composed of events, quotations, and detailed information about paintings and sculptures.

View high-resolution PDF of the project →

Or scroll down to view detail images ↓

Matisse and Picasso project Matisse and Picasso project Matisse and Picasso project Matisse and Picasso project


This piece was created for the 300-level undergrad and graduate design course Mapping and Diagramming at Carnegie Mellon University. It represents the culmination of my work in the course and was refined with valuable in-class critiques. About half of my work on the project involved gathering, condensing, and organizing large amounts of complex information about the artists’ prolific careers. The other half of my work was figuring out how to communicate that information concisely, clearly, and engagingly through design.

Matisse and Picasso project Matisse and Picasso project Matisse and Picasso project

Next Steps

At some point in the future I hope to make a digital version of the timeline, specifically conceived for web viewing. Looking at a huge PDF on a screen is not ideal. It would be an exciting challenge to design an interactive digital experience that—like the print piece—allows users to understand the big picture “from afar,” or to dive in for more detail if they desire.