Exhibition I Saw : Henri Mattise – The Cutouts

For EXHIBITION I SAW, D’s Art Takes and Divvya Nirula bring you Top-Hit’s of Gallery and Museum Exhibits we’ve visited. Today we look at Tate Modern’s show : Henri Matisse – the Cutouts.

This exhibition ran from April through September 2014. It was a travelling exhibition hosted first by Tate Modern, London, and then by the MoMA in New York.

Henri Matisse : The Cutouts Period

Henri Matisse was a prolific French artist of the early 20th century. His name was most often associated with Post-Impressionism, Expressionism and Fauvism. During the course of his career, he worked as painter, sculptor and print maker. However, his most unique form of expression arguably came to him in the later stages of his life. I am of course referring to his famous ‘cutouts’.

In the final stages of his life, the great artist was too ill to continue his large scale paintings. He was bedridden from asthma, heart problems and an operation for an intestinal issue. However, this did not hamper his creativity. Instead of painting and sculpting, Matisse started making paper cutouts. He essentially painted sheets of paper and then cut and juxtaposed them one on top of another, to create interesting compositions. The resulting works are not only considered seminal in the artist’s career, but also reflect his commitment to art.

The Exhibition

For a lover of Matisse’s work, this exhibition was nothing short of an absolute treat. It showcased over a 100 cutouts, including several iconic works such as The Swimming Pool (1952) and Blue Nude II (1952). The last time an exhibition of this scale – solely dedicated to Matisse’s cutouts – had been mounted in the early 60s, shortly after his death.

The exhibition remains the best Matisse show I have ever had the good fortune to attend. We all know Matisse as a great painter and print maker. But to experience his paper cut outs in this way is to know him more intimately.


To read more insights and reviews into top exhibitions around the globe, visit the archive for Exhibition I Saw.