Brilliant inspiration from Matisse Cutouts
I am back from a brilliant exhibition at Tate Modern: Matisse Cutouts. I really recommend you see the exhibition if you are in London. Make sure you take the audio guide to get the full story.
The exhibits themselves are truly uplifting and energizing. They show the work Matisse did in the last part of his life, where he used cut outs of coloured paper.
But beyond the art itself, the story of the artist and his work is truly inspiring. Here are some highlights.
Matisse was diagnosed with cancer in 1941, at the age of 71. Following surgery, he was confined to a wheelchair and unable to paint. But rather than become depressed and see his artistic life as over, Matisse tapped into a re-newed sense of energy. Indeed, he called the last fourteen years of his life “Une seconde vie”, a second life. He found a new way of creating art through large scale cut paper collages, using a team of helpers to position the cut outs on the wall.
2. Inspiring experiences
At one point when Matisse was low on inspiration, he tapped into an experience from many years before when he travelled to Tahiti. This led him to do paper cut outs of sea life and plants that appeared in some of his most famous work, like the one below done in the last two years of his life.
3. Happy accidents
It was fascinating to hear how Matisse came up with the idea for the cut outs. Some of the intitial cut outs were done as rough models to be turned into paintings for a book called Jazz. One room in the exhibition shows the original cut outs next to the final pages of the book.
However, Matisse decided that he actually preferred the cutouts themselves as an artform in their own right. This shows the power of "happy accidents", where you start off in one direction, learn and end up somewhere else.
So, do try and visit the exhibition. It is uplifting, inspiring and a really worth a trip.