Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs brings together 130 colourful works including four blue nudes never before displayed together in UK
With the title “Matisse-A cut above the rest” (a program by Alastair Sooke to be found on Youtube these days) The Culture Show inaugurated the summer and flooded our homes with delight and colour.
The program , which had the Tate’s exhibition as a starting point, allowed us to meet the characters that surrounded Matisse through his later years. From artistic aids to the nuns at the Chapelle du Rosaire, Matisse’s companions painted a picture unknown to me: a portrait of the master.
I expected to have visited the exhibition much earlier but ended up just making it yesterday evening as the Tate opened its doors until 10 pm in preparation for today’s all-nighter to allow as many visitors as possible to attend.
The sense of anticipation , almost unbearable, took me and my red bicycle on a quick journey between my office and the building I adore, where a magical world was waiting behind large doors and a rather long queue.
Matisse’s collages are both fascinating and insightful. Moreover, they are inspiring and encouraging for they are honest.
As age began to limit his movement, the artist found a different language that allowed him to continue to create and communicate his vision: collages. And as the cuts and layers of paper demonstrate, this language was alive and evolving.
A lot has been said about his blue nudes , the snail, icarus and the many iconic pieces that one finds room after room, but to me, the biggest impressions came from two pieces that I had never seen before:
A collage of two dancers and a fish (a shark) in one of the large scale cut outs for his apartment in Paris (Oceania, the Sky summer) .
On the first, the male dancer’s movement has been captured perfectly in a single piece of paper whilst the female dancer is made out of small pieces of white and yellow paper that are pinned following the estelle of her movement.
On the second the movement of the shark emerges from a single piece of white paper cleverly cut with a certainty and determination that requires a detailed knowledge of that animal’s behaviour…. remarkable , i thought, that only a small piece ton its fin was added.
Like all good exhibitions, this was an occasion to celebrate and to enjoy. Its greatest value was in the ephemeral nature of the encounter of the works in a single place (after all those years) , enabling us to move backwards and forward between them in a way that not even the master might have been able to do. And as such, it would be an opportunity I’d take if i were you.