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Culture Watch
"Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs" On view at MoMA

After debuting at the TATE Modern in London, the “Matisse: Cut-Outs” show is on view at New York’s Museum of Modern Art—and has even been extended through February 10, due to its incredible popularity. So, make a point to see this extraordinary show while you still can!

Henri Matisse, Blue Nude (III), 1952

Though largely regarded for his mastery of painting, Henri Matisse used the form of cut-outs as his primary medium during the late 1940s and early 1950s, upon being forced to give up painting as the result of a serious illness.

Henri Matisse, Horse, Rider and Clown (Le cheval, l'écuyère et le clown) from Jazz, 1947

The esteemed artist went the way of improvisation, working with paint, paper and scissors to create “gouches découpées”, or gouache cut-outs. Neither painting nor drawing, these works blurred the categories defining “high art” of the time. Matisse’s cut-outs were a total departure from the formalistic tone of 1940s art practice, as their forms blended realism and abstraction. “Henri Matisse: Cut-Outs” represents a revolutionary moment in contemporary art; the collaged form challenging the boundaries between fine art, experimentation and craft.

Henri Matisse, Two Masks (The Tomato) (Deux Masques [La Tomate]), 1947

Henri Matisse’s mastery of color and line are the defining aspects of this body of work. In fact, Matisse once described his process as “cutting directly into color” and “drawing with scissors.” Of particular note in the series, are the artist’s Blue Nudes, each appearing in a slightly different poses and in altered shades of blue.

Henri Matisse, Mon

As Matisse continued his practice of “cut-outs,” his pieces grew in size and scale, eventually occupying whole walls and apartments with their vibrant colors and vivacious forms. Though Matisse’s ingenious solution to his malady was largely ill regarded by his contemporaries, at MoMA last month his work so clearly proved the mark of a visionary before his time.

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