The French painter, sculptor and designer, Henri Matisse (1869-1954) was one of the 20th century’s most influential artists. His vibrant works are celebrated for their extraordinary richness and luminosity of colour and his spectacular paper cut-outs were his final triumph.
(image: Henri Matisse Nu bleu II (Blue Nude II), 1952 Gouache découpée 116,2 x 88,9cm copyright DACS)
Matisse: Drawing with Scissors, a Hayward Touring exhibition from the Southbank Centre features 35 posthumous prints of the famous cut-outs that he produced in the last four years of his life, when confined to his bed. It includes many of his iconic images, such as The Snail and the Blue Nudes. It is at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery in January 2015.
Matisse continued creating highly original works into his 80s. For his cut-outs he used paper hand-painted with gouache, which he carved into with scissors: ‘the paper cut-out allows me to draw in the colour … Instead of drawing the outline and putting the colour inside it…I draw straight into the colour’. The colours he used were so strong that he was advised by his doctor to wear dark glasses.
The lithographic reproductions in this exhibition are taken from a special double issue of Verve, a review of art and literature, published by Matisse’s friend, the critic and fine art publisher Tériade, in 1958, four years after Matisse’s death. The publication was planned during Matisse’s lifetime and the first lithographic plates were prepared under his direction a few days before he died.
Matisse began his working life as a lawyer, before going to Paris to study art in 1890. At first strongly influenced by the Impressionists, he soon created his own style, using brilliant, pure colours, and started making sculptures as well as paintings. In 1905 he and his colleagues were branded the Fauves (wild beasts) because of their unconventional use of colour, and it was during this time that he painted his celebrated Luxe, Calme et Volupté (Luxury, Tranquillity and Delight).
‘There is no gap between my earlier pictures and my cut-outs’, Matisse wrote; ‘I have only reached a form reduced to the essential through greater absoluteness and greater abstraction’.
Drawing with Scissors. Late Works 1950-1954, A Hayward Touring Exhibition from the South Bank Centre is at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery from January 10 to February 7, 2015
(from a press release)
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