Henri Matisse is one of the most important artists of the 20th century and the four relief sculptures known as 'the Backs' are the artist's most celebrated works in sculpture.
These monumental works are now recognised as a group and were made over a period of twenty years as he progressively refined the original pose of a model with raised arm.
The figure is portrayed with her back to the artist and progressively through the four works the figure is reduced to its essential elements of form. Although Back I had been exhibited in 1913, the series remained almost unknown until 1949-50 when the plaster Backs I, III and IV appeared in exhibitions in Paris and Lausanne. Back II was only rediscovered after Matisse's death and all were cast posthumously in bronze.
The sculptures are on loan from Tate for one year as part of a programme of 20th century sculpture loans, shown in the east-end gallery project space in direct dialogue with the Sainsbury Collection.