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Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs Hardcover – May 31, 2014
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The catalogue for the Tate's exhibition Henri-Matisse: The Cut-Outs surveys Matisse's late collages, including Jazz and the Vence chapel. Works from small-scale collages to frand mural projects are not only illustrated in their final forms but also seen in progres in numerous studio photographs. Fold-out pages give an idea of teh expansive nature of The Parakeet and teh Mermaid, 1952, and The Swimming Pool, 1952, at 16m wide. A technical summary of the cut-outs explains the range of papers used, the paint used to colour the sheets and the method of composition. (Alexander Adams The Art Newspaper)
in the 1950's, Matisse competed, consciously or not, with the very latest development in painting, Abstract Expressionism, filling vast surfaces with iconic forms and radiant color. (Joseph Wolin Time Out Magazine)
Vibrant designs of apparent simplicity spooling from a master's hands in the last decade of his life, each one a tableau of luminosity and power. (The Economist)
In the late 1940s, suffering from ill health, the French artist Henri Matisse retired his paintbrush. A spirit as creative as his, however, was not to be restrained. (Samuel Cochran Architectural Digest)
About the Author
Karl Buchberg is Senior Conservator at The Museum of Modern Art.
Nicholas Cullinan is Director of the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Jodi Hauptman is a Senior Curator at The Museum of Modern Art.
Samantha Friedman is an assistant curator of the Department of Drawings and Prints at The Museum of Modern Art.
Flavia Frigeri is an assistant curator at Tate Modern in London; she is the organizing curator for Tate’s Young Patrons.
Nicholas Serota is director of Tate Modern's art museums and galleries.
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Top Customer Reviews
This remarkable body of late work is authoritatively discussed in the catalogue's nine essays, all of which were written by senior curators and conservators at the Tate, the MoMA, or New York's Metropolitan Museum. They are short and concise (about eight or nine pages on average) and generously illustrated by some seventy accompanying reproductions. Topics discussed include how the artist came upon the idea of the cut-out in the beginning; their gradual evolution from simple maquettes in the service of developing works to independent works of art on their own, and Matisse's own growing realization of what they were; their reception by critics and the public at large; the "Dance" mural for the Barnes Foundation and designs for the ballet "Rouge et Noir"; the cut-outs for the "Jazz" book; designs for the Chapel at Vence and the late monumental mural works, etc. These are all thoughtful and informative essays; I was particularly intrigued by Samantha Friedman's "Game and Endgame," which elucidates the compositional permutations of the pieces on the model of the chessboard; and by Nicholas Cullinan's "Chromatic Composition," which examines the intermediate, ambivalent position of the cut-outs between figuration and abstraction (e.g., Matisse gave his 1953 piece "The Snail" the alternative title "Composition Chromatique," much as--in a very different context--Whistler's painting slips between "Portrait of the Artist's Mother" and "Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1"). There is also a fascinating technical examination of the paints, papers, mounting practices, etc. used in creating these works, procedures at least as complicated as those involved in any of the more traditional media. In addition, there is a sixty-page photo essay, "In the Studio," which is not merely the kind of supplementary collection of workshop photos we find in many catalogues, but an essential component in understanding Matisse's creative process: as the compositions became ever larger, the "supports" went from boards to the walls of his rooms, to the extent that, finally, the studio itself became the support. Successive photographs of the studio allow us to follow the stages of various compositions; it is an engaging and challenging exercise for the reader to try to reconstruct the artist's reasons for substituting a leaf cut-out, say, for an amoeba, or trying to see why he finally came down against using any of the various "Blue Nudes" in "The Parakeet and the Mermaid" (1952). A fine touch is that the photographs are annotated with the corresponding catalogue numbers of the works in the exhibition; this greatly facilitates the reader's comparison and use of the book as a self-educational tool.
As far as the catalogue is concerned, there are 136 plates of reproductions in excellent color (and, of course, riotous color: Picasso once claimed that only Matisse and Chagall knew what color really is). One very nice feature of the book is that the endpapers reproduce the color charts of the gouache paints produced by the manufacturer Linel, illustrating the great range of them available to Matisse, and of which he liberally availed himself: the technical analysis reveals that he used over fifteen varieties of orange, eight turquoises, and ten greens (255). No wonder the book is a carrousel of color! Most of the plates are printed full-page; for a couple of the longer works there are gatefolds, and "The Swimming Pool" itself has a double gatefold. This is altogether a very delightfully produced volume and unhurried in its design and layout. It has some selected bibliography, a checklist of the exhibited works with the usual curatorial data, and a comprehensive index. There is no dearth of books on Matisse, including on the cut-outs, but this seems to be the most complete and best illustrated one on these magnificent late works, and it's highly recommended for all Matisse aficionados.
There's also a ton of text. I appreciate that as an academic, but I really wanted a book that was equally about the art *and* the process/history, and the Taschen book felt more like a true art book. I'm actually a little surprised that this is an exhibit catalog- it feels more like an academic book to me.
This is by no means a terrible book, it's just not as good as the Taschen one in terms of image quality and size.
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