24 maggio 2014

“Carving into colour”. Henry Matisse: The Cuts-Out Exhibition at Tate Modern, London

The cuts out

“Cutting into colour reminds me of the sculptor’s direct carving.”
Described by director of the Tate Galleries Nicholas Serota as a once-in-a-lifetime show, Henry Matisse: The Cuts-Out assembles for the first time almost 130 art works which have changed the way we look at art today.

We at Quadrolegno are always interested in pioneer artists, and this exhibition surely offers an authentic journey into the last chapter of Matisse’s career.

Diagnosed with cancer, Matisse spent the last 13 years of his life on a wheelchair. He could no longer paint. Despite illness and old age, this phase of his life was instead explosively creative as he taught himself to “paint with scissors”. The process behind this new technique, that of cuts out paper, is as simple as it appears: draw, cut, and stick. Yet, the combination of shapes, lines, colours that Matisse creates is uniqueand remains without precedent or parallel.

To wander around this exhibition gives a sense of fluidity, if not of complete harmony which well reflects Matisse’s joyin his new or rather “second life”. It comes thus as little surprise that these works were initially conceived by the artist as a unified whole.

For the first time at the Tate Galleries small gems such asIcarus, The Rider and The Horse are there together with monumental works like The Snail and Oceania. Room by room the works become more ambitious, and the show culminates with the famous quartet of Blue Nudes which were made in 1952, when Matisse was 82.

The experience of seeing so many cuts out is overwhelming, almost magical, and even those not overly found of Matisse cannot help but bowled over by these joyful and original works. What makes this art so inspiring for us at Quadrolegnois the way it transcends the boundaries of conventional painting, drawing, and sculpture. Truly, by movingfrom a concept to another, from one art form to another, and by elegantly playing with various colours, nuances and figures, Matisse teaches us once again that, to use his own words, “creativity takes courage”.

Henry Matisse Cuts exhibition is on view until September at Tate Modern Gallery (London), and it will then travel to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. 

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