The Matisse Cut-Outs exhibition is at the Tate Modern and I was very excited when the good folk at Bank of America Merrill Lynch invited me to a private viewing … along with about 600 of their other best friends. As a young adult I was enamoured with Matisse’s collage work, and I fancied that I too could cut out shapes from coloured construction paper and make art.
This was my first time seeing his work live. What amazed me was the size and scale of some of the pieces. Having broadly seen the collages in art books and postcards, I was surprised to find that some were wall-sized – The Snail – and others easily fit into an A3 folio.
Matisse made these collages in the last decade and a half of his life, after a cancer diagnosis. He called it “painting with scissors”. Largely housebound, he created his garden around him, with trees, leaves, fruit, and birds. From his wheelchair, he instructed his assistants – clad with pin-cushions tied around their waists – as to where the coloured pieces should go on the wall. They carried out his bidding, pushing their step-ladders back and forth, until the composition was exactly as he wanted it.
It’s a wonderful story, to have found creativity out of what could have been a very disheartening period in his life.
I don’t have many pictures, as I discovered inadvertently that we weren’t allowed to take photographs in the exhibition. But do go along. I found a piece I hadn’t known previously called The Bees, which look like bees – or nuns – flying across a courtyard in an arc. It’s very clever. You’ll see what I mean.
~ Spotted Cow