December 2014 – Late in the life of artist Henri Matisse, as battles with illness and a decrease in mobility set in, he turned from paintbrush to scissors. The process of cutting his abstract images from large pieces of painted paper allowed infinite possibilities of arrangement while the artist was largely confined to a wheelchair; (a single image might contain 1,000 or more pin holes resulting from multiple repositionings by students and assistants). The works in the exhibition translated into murals for collectors, compositions in the artist’s Paris apartment and Vence studio, illustrations for art books and magazines as well as stained glass windows. The final portion of the exhibition features one of those windows, Christmas Eve; a seemingly simple and obvious inclusion, but one which grants the viewer an “a-ha” moment perhaps not provided by the simple viewing of the cut-outs. As if the need for that moment was predicted by Matisse, he wrote: “By creating these coloured paper cut-outs, it seems to me that I am happily anticipating things to come. I don’t think that I have ever found such balance as I have in creating these paper cut-outs. But I know that it will only be much later that people will realize to what extent the work I am doing today is in step with the future.”
The MoMA exhibition continues through February 8, 2015. Timed tickets are required for Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs. For tickets and times visit moma.org.