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MARCH 12

Lest you think the painter who championed armchair art can escape semiotic analysis, in his introduction to Matisse on Art, renowned Matisse scholar Jack Flam unravels the theory of “plastic signs” as it pertains to the various stages of the artist’s career. It turns out that the painter himself entertained notions of the series of forms that populated, in particular, his late paper cutouts, as a system of “plastic,” as opposed to written, signs. Flam writes that Matisse insisted that “the artist must find his own signs, signs that are unique to himself,” a statement that must certainly come as a rebuke to all the graphic artists entrusted with coffeehouse and bookstore accounts who have seen fit to rip off design elements from the pages of Jazz. Tonight, Flam will examine the last 20 years of Matisse’s work, perhaps concurring with the judgment of the Five Man Electrical Band: “Signs, signs, everywhere signs…” At 6:30 p.m. at Powell Auditorium, 2170 Florida Ave. NW. $15. For reservations call (202) 387-2151. (Glenn Dixon)