Was Matisse a designer manqué? His parents's involvement with textiles and fabric design has always been considered an influence on his work. Imagine him as a student at F.I.T. with fine arts as his avocation.
In a world drenched with 24/7 information, what's wrong with just experiencing art for yourself? Who says you have to "study up?" Museum exhibitions are designed to inform. You don't need to arm yourself in advance as if you're going into hazardous territory, you don't need to do homework.
Sounds like an oxymoron -- Matisse was such a sophisticated man, why would the city of the Alamo, the long-horn cows, and BBQ in all shapes and style be interested in the French painter's work, one wonders
Matisse lived during France's Belle Époque. Café culture was at its height, and cafés were where artists came together to exchange stories, discuss ground breaking artistic styles, and eat good food. This good food has a history.
With these pleasant reminders of the past and the present and their connections to contemporary inventiveness, I've had the unexpected and pleasurable experience of seeing great classic works within reach, up close and friendly.