Matisse – Cut Outs – MoMA 2014


On November 18, 2014 & posted in Art, Exclusive

The nightmare of the White Elephant. 1947, from Jazz.

– Written by Anmari Botha

The Fauvist King.

As per usual, the most prestigious exhibition of the season is on the top floor of the MoMA. When I think of Matisse, I envision line work and bold colours. This exhibition duplicates that envision precisely. Matisse produced a lot of work throughout his life, but this exhibition is purely his Cut-Outs, created towards the end of his life, “It allows me to draw in colour” wrote Henri Matisse.

Prepare yourself for a tidal wave of primary and complimentary colours. Attempting to focus on a single image is a challenge, as this exhibition consists of vast variety of work, ranging in sizes and mediums, from stained glass windows to paperback books. Overwhelmed? Yes. Bored? Not at all.


‘Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs,’ a Victory Lap at MoMA

Every individual piece is like a puzzle. I’m trying to decipher what the subject matter is. My conclusion to this piece is: deadly sea urchin in a densely polluted coral reef. Yet it turns out to be a circus elephant, “The elephant dream of his childhood in the bush, in the jungle far away from the circus.” This melancholy quote lays down an ironic perspective.

Contrary to his vibrantly cheerful Cut-Out’s, he was enduring a lot of pain and grief during this period of his life. Living the pyjama-suit lifestyle and enduring insomnia, he suffered from abdominal cancer and underwent a lot of misery. Despite his uncomfortable situation, he managed to produce artwork that provokes joy and vibrancy.

Because of this crippling circumstance he had to alter his production methods. Pursuing the experimental Cut-Outs was a form of liberation. Colours stimulate a lot of emotion, so the focus of colours is an easy method for expression. This shows us that Matisse was a dedicated artist who produced work out of sheer devotion. Crowds love Matisse, the old passionate master that carried on throughout pain and illness – a romantic inspiration in society.


The Snail, 1953.


Waiting in the final room of the exhibition, gallery-goers crowd around The Snail. A tour de force in size and intensity. it was one of his last pieces before his death. Matisse used complimentary colours to devise maximum vibrancy. A snail you say? Dig deep in your imagination in order to visualize this. Observe closely and we see a spiral pattern echoing that of a snail. “I first of all drew the snail from nature, holding it. I became aware of an unrolling, I found an image in my mind purified of the shell, then I took the scissors.”

Matisse died as one of the most significant colourists, and I am honoured to experience a glimpse his world through this exhibition. If you’re feeling a little grey, then come to the MoMA and get a shot of vibrancy.



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