I have loved the work of Henri Matisse for years and like so many others, have been enamored with his use of color, negative space and seeming simplicity of form. I was most familiar with his paintings but that all changed recently when I had the opportunity to attend the exhibit, Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs in London.
The exhibit includes 120 pieces that have not been together in over 50 years. It must have been and immense undertaking to gather all of this work from private collections and museums from all over the world.
The Cut-Outs: In the last 17 years of his life, Matisse created his work while sitting in a wheel chair. He held painted paper in one hand and a pair of large scissors in the other creating shapes that he described as "cutting directly into colour". His assistant would then pin the shapes onto the wall and he would instruct them to move or shift the shape to his desired location. Stepping closer to the work you will see tiny pinholes which serve as a record of the locations shapes were added and then moved. There were also several in which flat head pins were still holding the papers in place.
The work is striking in its vivid color, composition and scale. Many cut-outs were created for publication while others were stunning studies for larger projects such as wall size ceramic panels, stain glass windows for churches and rugs.
I found the soft gold tone of the large scale prints "Oceania, The Sky" to be my favorite of the show. The original concept began when Matisse took a cut-out of a swallow on writing paper and pinned it on the wall of his Paris apartment-studio to cover a stain. He then began to cut-out other shapes such as fish and coral and pin them to the wall. I read in the exhibit that people would walk into his studio and the light weight paper would waft from the draft as they walked by. It would have been amazing to have been a visitor to his studio. The two large scale prints in the exhibit were made from the original pieces hanging on his apartment walls.
The Blue Nudes are also a must see and the entire collection is included in the exhibit. I strongly recommend renting the audio narration for back stories and any French translations.
Dates of Exhibit:
Tate Modern London: April 17th - September 7, 2014
Then it travels to the Museum of Modern Art in New York
Thereafter all works will be returned to their respective homes, museums, collections
Applying All That Creative Inspiration to Our Daily Lives
It was completely inspiring to tour the Matisse cut-outs exhibit. I decided that I'm gong to get large sheets of paper this summer and paint them with my kids in the backyard, then cut-out shapes and create our own Oceania wall. Matisse was inspired by a visit to Tahiti and our inspiration may come from our roots on Maui. If you also are inspired to create your own cut-outs please take photos and post them!
If you are not one to get out the paints visit the Tate Modern on line and find the prints from the exhibit. I have posted the link above in the first paragraph. They have a large selection of posters, postcards and giclee prints that are available in a wide price range. Or you can wait for the NYC exhibit. There is a boxed set of Blue Nudes that is especially lovely and the vivid blues would be great professionally framed and hung in a walk in closet, bedroom or bath.