It’s a funny thing the arrogance of youth, I think we need to have it as a survival mechanism in order to survive this difficult world. It makes things seem so much easier if you are full of confidence that you are sure you are right about everything. When I was at Art School some of my favourite artist’s were and some still are, Matisse, Rothko, Hans Hoffman amongst the many. I dismissed Mastisse’s cut outs with out much thought at all or processing why I dismissed them. I haven’t given them a lot of thought since them apart from the fact that I find them very beautiful. Arrogance of youth can be very dismissive of many things, How arrogant I was.
It wasn’t until recently whilst teaching one of my online zoom classes that I thought that making a cut out painting would help with composition, placement of objects, the use of colour and the spaces in between, that I really understood that it is not that simple!!
Matisse started to work on the cutouts when it was no longer possible to move around easily and was confined in the main to a wheelchair. He also had studio assistants who helped him to create this wonderful peices of work. He had also reached a stage in his life long search of colour and line as he described “construction by means of colour” he also said “My line drawing is the purest and most direct translation of my emotion” He said that through the cut outs he was finally able to unite these two branches of his practice. He described the process of making them as both “cutting directly into colour and drawing with scissors”
Even the paper he used was painted in gouache in various degrees of saturation (intensity). Working on a project Matisse would ask for the paper to be placed on his studio floor and would choose a sheet and cut a shape, all of various sizes and of course shapes. These were assembled to make the final form. He would sometimes over lap shapes. Matisse’s goal was the outline of the form not the actual layered structure.
It was all quite complicated to my mind, when the cut out painting on his wall became too large or he needed the space for another composition a tracing was made and all the shapes and overlapping forms were numbered on the back. It never occured to me for a single moment how painstaking these works were.
The cutouts were glued to the paper they had been placed on and then framed.
It’s funny that I didn’t even bother to find out the reasons he developped his ideas as an artist, how the cutouts had been in the making since as early on as 1919. but I will continue this in my next blog about Matisse and his cutouts.
It is fascinating. My first attempts creating a cutout a few weeks ago were pretty dismal and I realised that I needed shapes that I can connect to emotionally and be inspired by. It is spring and I have been painting blossom, The wild pear blossom has been particularly beautiful this spring and so here is my attempt at a spring cut out and I am quite excited to try more!
Well it is a very long while since I have had time to write a blog, months and I have really enjoyed doing so.
Fabulous piece you created, Tess. And I really appreciate your sharing this info on Matisse. I’d never heard this about him qnd his views. Fascinating! Rx