During the last decade of his life, Henri Matisse (1896-1954) turned exclusively to the innovative technique of the cut-out. Matisse took sheets of paper colored with gouache by his studio assistants and used scissors to cut shapes and forms, which were then arranged on the walls of his bedroom and dining room. Finished compositions were spot glued on a background and larger works were mounted on canvas and often glazed. Some cut-outs were stand alone works of art, while others served as studies for larger decorative projects. The cut-out technique enabled Matisse to adapt his decades-long exploration of line and color into a medium that was less physically taxing than the practice of painting.
Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs, currently on view at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) until February 8, 2015, beautifully presents the vibrant artwork of the artist at the end of his life. Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs drew record-breaking crowds when it premiered at Tate Modern, so reserve your timed admission tickets in advance before visiting MoMA for this once-in-a-lifetime show.
The MPS Art Therapy program’s Multicultural Issues in Art Therapy class recently went to MoMA to view the Cut-Outs show, with ageism as the topic of discussion for the class that week. Course instructor Val Sereno felt viewing this exhibit demonstrated how Matisse, in the last years of his life, was able to utilize the cut-out technique and remain as creative and productive as ever. This dynamic show inspired the class to not only actively discuss ageism, but also the vibrancy and richness of using collage materials at any age.
Text by Tessa Dean, MA and Val Sereno, ATR-BC, LCAT.