Tate Modern’s major exhibition Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs opens on 17 April. It is the most comprehensive exhibition ever devoted to the artist’s paper cut-outs made between 1937 and 1954 bringing together around 130 works of his final works. The show includes the largest number of Matisse’s Blue Nudes ever exhibited together.
Matisse first used cut paper shapes to work out the arrangement of objects in his painting. While working on a painting, he often made sketches exploring alternative points of view or versions of the composition. When ill health prevented him from painting, he began to cut into painted paper with scissors to make maquettes for commissions, which included books, and designs for stained glass windows, tapestries and ceramics.
The exhibition begins with a film by Adrien Maeght showing the artist wielding his scissors. Background on his work tells us that Matisse was fascinated by dance and during the early ’50s, he made many large -scale works some of which are on display. London-based textile printer Zika Ascher visited Matisse while he was working on the Tahiti-inspired cut-outs, and the two agreed on a project to create printed linen wall hangings based on these compositions.
In room six another film gives a glimpse of his handling of paper, and shows how he holds the sheet in the air with one hand while cutting with the other. This was a way of working in three dimensions. As his work progressed, he was also using cut paper in different ways. For all his boldness and confidence, the process was always one of trial and revision.
Matisse recognised a strong connection with his cut-out method, and stained glass. In the last room is one of his windows based on a Christmas theme conveying the spirit of religion without addressing the religious subject.
Related events including family activities are being held throughout the period of the exhibition. This includes a live screening Matisse Live on 3 June in HD to around 200 cinemas, illuminating the artist’s work. The screening will continue around the country on subsequent days.
Henri Matisse: The Cut -Outs runs until 7 September 2014.
Tate Modern Open daily 10.00 – 18.00; until 22.00 on Friday and Saturday, and 19.30 on Sunday.
www.visit tate.org.uk Tel. 0044 (0) 20 7887 8888.