Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs

The Sheaf

Yesterday I went to see the much raved about Matisse exhibition at the Tate Modern with a friend. As it was a Saturday afternoon the gallery was full of a range of people; from those who took themselves very seriously to Italian mothers intently attempting to give their five-year-old children art history lessons to us, two fairly relaxed punters.

Despite the crush the exhibition was very enjoyable and almost therapeutic. It charts Matisse’s growing confidence in this new art form and his various experiments with what it could achieve. The opening rooms focus on the physicality of each work, which Matisse believed could not be reproduced in prints, through videos of the artist working and a comparison of the works and subsequent reproductions. As the exhibition progressed the cut-outs grew larger so that they eventually covered huge walls. In his own home Matisse began to cover all the walls so that paper tendrils would stir in the breeze, creating an almost living wallpaper.

Although the colours of the cut-outs were vibrant they were not garish or overwhelming. Instead the simplicity of each shade made it more important to focus on the shape that had been created – both with the paper and with the remaining white space. The series of Blue Nudes demonstrated this as each clearly suggested the human form using only two colours.

Blue Nude (II)

The exhibition is on until 7th September and I would definitely recommend it as it’s not often the opportunity  arises to appreciate artistic excellence with paper and glue.


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