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When in London: Matisse Sunday lates at The Tate Modern

Posted by MJC. Filed under Editor's Picks

When in London: Matisse Sunday lates at The Tate Modern 1
When in London: Matisse Sunday lates at The Tate Modern 1

Photo of the artist at work in his later years

When in London: Matisse Sunday lates at The Tate Modern 1

On the right, the Blue Nudes series

When in London: Matisse Sunday lates at The Tate Modern 1

On the left, the famous Snail

When in London: Matisse Sunday lates at The Tate Modern 1When in London: Matisse Sunday lates at The Tate Modern 1When in London: Matisse Sunday lates at The Tate Modern 1When in London: Matisse Sunday lates at The Tate Modern 1

The name Matisse needs no introduction in the art world. A leading figure in modern art, Henri Matisse was famous for paintings such as The Yellow Curtain, Still Life With Geraniums and La Danse. If you happen to be in London, don’t miss the ongoing Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition at the Tate Modern, which explores the artist’s final chapter in his career.

In the early 40s, ill health prevented the artist from painting, so instead, he began to cut into painted paper with scissors to make drafts for a number of commissions. In time, Matisse chose cut-outs over painting: He had invented a new medium. He began ‘carving into color’ and his amazing cut-out series was born. Confined in his wheelchair, he could not move about, he could not arrange these large but fragile slivers on the wall – a film shows his assistant shifting them around under instruction, and even holding up the sheets of paper while he scissors away.

From dancers to circus scenes and a famous snail, the exhibition showcases an array of 120 pieces made between 1936 and 1954. Often large in scale, the cut-outs have a childlike simplicity coupled with incredible creative sophistication.

The exhibition marks an historic moment, when treasures from around the world can be seen together. The exhibition also features another personal favorite, Matisse’s famous Blue Nudes.

For a more private viewing experience, the museum offers “Sunday lates,” which allows viewing to a few during closed hours. I booked a slot online and it was worth the extra fee. Nothing quite prepares you for the colossal size of the final cut-outs, forms that seem to be endless across walls. That they were conjured with nothing more than paper, pins and scissors seems as extraordinary and special as the reduced circumstances in which they were made.  Looking at the exuberance of boldness of colors used, Matisse was obviously celebrating the beauty of life even as he was facing his end.

Matisse: The Cut-Outs will be open until September 7 at The Tate Modern

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