This past week I finally went to see the Matisse cut outs at Moma. I had been planning to go since October but as usual I had to wait till the last second, and since it was the last week of the exhibit, I stopped procrastinating and went.
Henri Matisse is a well known French painter and one of the best known figures of Fauvism, the first Modern Art movement.
At the end of a glorious artistic career was the phase of the cut outs, where Matisse used Gouache colored paper and scissors as his main tools to fashion brilliant artwork. Confined to his wheelchair after being diagnosed with cancer and following an operation, Matisse with the help of his assistant Lydia created collages of various shapes and sizes, surrounding himself with forms.
“What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter”.
The focus of this exhibition was the unveiling of the The Swimming Pool, which Matisse had created for his dining room in Nice, France. An extensive conservation effort, it was brought back for public viewing after 20 years.
The story goes that Matisse had gone to to his favorite pool in Cannes with his assistant and upon his return declared that he would make is own “Swimming Pool”. He instructed Lydia to put a roll of white paper across the room and got busy cutting the fluid forms. His dining room proportions have been recreated and The Swimming Pool resides in it and will remain at Moma.
In 1946 he developed Oceania, the Sky and Oceania, the Sea on the walls of an apartment in Montparnasse, Paris. He cut a swallow from paper and not wanting to throw it away used it to cover a stain on the wall. From there on more cut outs followed and Oceania was born.
I love storytelling and one of my favorites is “One Thousand and One Nights,” the famed collection of Middle Eastern folk tales relayed by Scheherazade each evening to avoid death at the hands of a Persian king.
My absolute favorite is the collection of “The Blue Nudes”. The human figure was essential to Matisse’s work, both sculpture and painting. The Blue signified distance and volume and the set of four, all in the same seated position with legs crossed and the hand over the head, similar yet so different because of the use of the negative space in the cut outs.
The exhibition at Moma was a treat with about a 100 cut outs loaned from public and private collections around the world.
I walked away, inspired and ready for new adventures and maybe a few cutouts of my own! New scarves and artwork coming up!