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Henri Matisse



Creative Cutouts
Henri Matisse, French (1869-1954), <i>Fall of Icarus, frontpiece from Verve </i>, 1945, lithography reproduction of gouache cutout ©Succession H. Matisse, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
zoom Henri Matisse, French (1869-1954), Fall of Icarus, frontpiece from Verve , 1945, lithography reproduction of gouache cutout ©Succession H. Matisse, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

Late in his career Matisse began experimenting with paper cutouts, which he made into collages. To make the collages, he first had his assistants paint white paper to give it a bright color. Then he cut out shapes, arranged them, pinned them into place, and finally glued them down on a sheet of paper.

Cutting the shapes himself gave Matisse complete control over the artwork. He called it drawing with scissors. Cutting into the paper left a clean edge, much like the clean lines of his drawings, but the weight of the paper against the scissors reminded him of sculpture. His work in this art form peaked with his book Jazz, in which colors and shapes convey the essence of jazz music.

Matisse’s cutouts look different from his other works, but they follow the same themes and continue his use of bright colors and pattern.


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1. Closely resembling Fall of Icarus, this is an example of how Matisse reworked the same theme many times.
Icare (Icarus), from the illustrated book Jazz, 1947, printed reproduction of gouache cutout©Succession H. Matisse, Paris/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
2. The freeform shapes of this cutout recall the flowing brushstrokes in many of Matisse’s paintings.
Les Codomas (The Codomas), from the illustrated book Jazz, 1947, printed reproduction of gouache cutout, ©Succession H. Matisse, Paris/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
3. Colors and shapes combine to form a lively composition in this image from Jazz.
Le Cirque (The Circus), from the illustrated book Jazz, 1947, printed reproduction of gouache cutout, ©Succession H. Matisse, Paris/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

 

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November 2006