Sunday, May 4, 2014

Matisse on Sunday

If I had my own private plane, I would be jetting off to London where Matisse is having a spectacular retrospective at the Tate. The show opened this April to a chorus of praise, well deserved praise, bringing together 120 of Matisse's innovative last works.

Tate Modern’s major exhibition, Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs, is the most comprehensive exhibition ever devoted to the artist’s paper cut-outs made between 1943 and 1954. It brings together around 120 works, many seen together for the first time, in a groundbreaking reassessment of Matisse’s colourful and innovative final works. The exhibition opens at Tate Modern on 17 April 2014.

More Information: http://artdaily.com/news/69456/Tate-opens-most-comprehensive-exhibition-ever-devoted-to-Matisse-s-paper-cut-outs#.U2ah-MehCOM[/url]
Copyright © artdaily.org
Tate Modern’s major exhibition, Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs, is the most comprehensive exhibition ever devoted to the artist’s paper cut-outs made between 1943 and 1954. It brings together around 120 works, many seen together for the first time, in a groundbreaking reassessment of Matisse’s colourful and innovative final works. The exhibition opens at Tate Modern on 17 April 2014.

More Information: http://artdaily.com/news/69456/Tate-opens-most-comprehensive-exhibition-ever-devoted-to-Matisse-s-paper-cut-outs#.U2ah-MehCOM[/url]
Copyright © artdaily.or

In March 1946 Pablo Picasso paid one of his fortnightly visits to see Henri Matisse in Vence, a few miles inland from Nice. Five years after the medical crisis that had nearly killed him, Matisse, at 76, was still an invalid: he had endured radical colon surgery and much of his work was now done either from a wheelchair or in bed. But, creatively, he was phenomenally fertile in the midst of what he called, with undisguised gratitude and wonder, “his second life”.

In his late sixties, when ill health first prevented Matisse from painting, he began to cut into painted paper with scissors to make drafts for a number of commissions. In time, Matisse chose cut-outs over painting: he had invented a new medium.

 The evidence of this resurrection was almost entirely on paper: illustrative drawings done for books of poetry, Renaissance and modern and, most arrestingly, glued or pinned to the walls, the radically new form of modernism that Matisse had just invented – the cut-outs, an extended series of which would be published as Jazz by his friend, the critic and publisher Tériade, in 1947.

Découpage. Cut-outs. A new, brilliant way of drawing. Matisse frequently quoted Toulouse-Lautrec’s exclamation “At last I don’t know how to draw”, by which he meant the escape from convention and conformity.


For instance, take "The Snail." One of the painter's last works, created a year before his death, it is made of pieces of painted paper that have been cut and pasted onto white paper. There is nothing in this picture that looks like a snail, or like anything other than the brightly colored irregular rectangles. Like "The Bees, "the composition is essentially cubist, the blocks of color correcting the curve of the shell." But the intuition of the viewer fills in the blanks and the mind "sees" a snail in that collection of colored paper blocks.

In her masterly biography of Matisse, Spurling points out, it is difficult to understand today just how revolutionary this approach was:

   "Matisse was not simply discarding perspective, abolishing shadows, repudiating the academic distinction between line and color. He was attempting to overturn a way of seeing evolved and accepted by the Western world for centuries.... He was substituting for [an] illusion of objectivity a conscious subjectivity, a 20th-century art that would draw its validity essentially from the painter's own visual and emotional responses."

 Their asymmetric symmetry is the culmination of a lifetime of courageous experiment. Color and forms dance across the space, creating rhythms that change even as you watch. Matisse said that , "The scissoring itself was the graphic, linear equivalent of the sensation of flight."

"A perfectly timed caption at the end of the exhibition – curated with great insight, tact and judgment by Nicholas Serota and Nicholas Cullinan – alerts you to the thousand and more pinpricks visible in the paper pieces of these last acanthus cut-outs. This is what it took, not just the scissoring but the pinning, trying it all out over and over again until the relationships between the pieces are exactly right. It is the lesson of a lifetime, and an inspiration to the viewer: this is how we should all be, still aspiring, still relishing the beauty of life even as we face its end."

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/apr/20/henri-matisse-the-cut-outs-tate-modern-review-laura-cumming

“Henri Matisse: the Cut-Outs” is at Tate Modern, London SE1, until 7 September

The Magic of Matisse: http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/blogs/nicholas-serota-on-magic-matisse


Alastair Sooke, the author of "A Second Life," discusses Matisse’s Cut-Outs exhibition and why this is a “once in a lifetime” display.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/10787160/Matisses-cut-outs-in-historic-show-at-Tate-Modern.html

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