“Une seconde vie”: Henri Matisse’s Cut-Outs

Matisse making paper cut outs.

The Museum of Modern Art is currently hosting an exhibition titled “Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs” which explores Matisse’s artistic turn in the 1940’s to cut paper as his primary medium. This radical new creation came to be known as a cut-out, and how it works is Matisse would cut painted sheets into forms of varying shapes and sizes which he would then arrange into lively compositions.

From small to mural to room-size works, Matisse developed a passion for this medium which as MoMA perfectly states, “reflects both a renewed commitment to form and color and an inventiveness directed to the status of the work of art, whether as a unique object, environment, ornament, or a hybrid of all of these.” Matisse was able to have freedom with the from that he could not have in lithographs or paintings as once they were done they could not be changed, but in the cut-outs they could be easily manipulated to suit his changing desires.

The motivation behind Matisse’s change to create the cut-out was his diagnoses with cancer in 1941 and his subsequent surgery that required him to use a wheelchair the rest of his life. With the aid of his beautiful Russian-born assistant, Lydia Delectorskaya, he came into what he referred to as his “Une seconde vie”, a second life, for the last fourteen years of his life in which this form was his main expression.

Henri Matisse, “Polinesia, The Sky,” 1947. Cut-out Musée des Gobelins, Paris © Succession H. Matisse 2011 for all works by the artist

This beautiful burst of expression explores a feminine side unseen in his previous works with twinkly and curly shapes that dance as decoration across walls and evoke such things as stars and hearts, fish, and birds. With his limited mobility this transition makes sense as Matisse found it as an opportunity to fashion a new, aesthetically pleasing environment: “You see as I am obliged to remain often in bed because of the state of my health, I have made a little garden all around me where I can walk… There are leaves, fruits, a bird.” Thus his cut-outs could be considered the most personal works in his oeuvre, each unique and stunning. Definitely a visit worth taking to MoMA or an investment worth making if you happen to come across one at auction.

MORE ARTICLES:

View our Henri Matisse inventory here: Henri Matisse inventory
Please visit our Art Education page here: Masterworks Fine Art Gallery Art Education
Museum of Modern Art: Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs. October 12, 2014–February 8, 2015

 

The Tragic Beauty of Edvard Munch (born dec 12)

Edvard Munch, “Self Portrait,” 1896

Edvard Munch’s artwork captivates the soul, staring straight into the humanity of love, loss, and peaceful life experiences. As we celebrate his 151th birthday today we not only celebrate the legacy of his art but his life: tragically inspiring.

Munch’s artwork is known as being incredibly personal and he suffered tremendous loss with his mother dying when he was young followed by one of his sisters’ almost 10 years later. Another one of his sisters’ had a mental illness, and at the age of 30 his brother died of pneumonia. Munch himself developed a severe drinking problem along with having a mental illness that he said came from his father, “…The angels of fear, sorrow, and death stood by my side since the day I was born.”

Continually checking himself into a private sanitarium throughout his life, Munch’s art speaks to struggle and finding the beauty within life. For him art was life, a way to express himself and deal with the illness that plagued him. Today his works are some of the most coveted in the market with his most famous being The Scream (1893), Ashes (1894), The Dance of Life (1899) and The Dead Mother (1900).

December Birthday’s:

Helen Frankenthaler: The Woman of Postwar American Painting (born dec 12)

Artist Helen Frankenthaler photographed in her NYC studio by Austrian photographer and artist Ernst Haas, 1969. Image from the Ernst Haas estate

Helen Frankenthaler is one of the most important and influential American abstract expressionist painters, being a major contributor to the history of postwar American painting with the development of a method of painting best known as Color Field. As we celebrate her birthday today, the fascinating aspect of her artwork is that her style is almost impossible to characterize.

Being an active painter for nearly six decades means that Frankenthaler’s works went through a variety of phases and stylistic changes. With the only constant throughout her phases being her use of fluid shapes, abstract masses, and lyrical gestures. She is only associated with abstract expressionism because of her focus on forms hidden in nature and her work is most famous because of its emphasis on spontaneity, with Frankenthaler herself stating that, “A really good picture looks as if it’s happened at once.”

Frankenthaler’s technique for such spontaneity was her staining method, which emphasized the flat surface over illusory depth, which called attention to the very nature of paint on canvas. This kind of originality heavily influenced the colorists Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland and is why she is so celebrated today, three years after her death.

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Celebrating Kandinsky’s 148th Birthday, December 16th

Kandinsky, “Self Portrait,” circa 1884. Unknown on Paper

Kandinsky is respected throughout the art world and credited with painting the first purely abstract works. However a large part of his success is that Kandinsky had a very special gift called synaesthesia cognate, which gave him the ability to hear colors and see sounds. He had a fascinating journey, being born in Moscow and moving between Germany and Russia during both World Wars before settling down in France in 1933.

Kandinsky, “Composition VI ,” 1913. Oil on Canvas. Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

The main key in Kandisnky’s work is that some characteristics are obvious while certain touches are more discrete and veiled. That is to say they reveal themselves only progressively to those who make the effort to deepen their connection with his work. He intended his forms, which he subtly harmonized and placed, to resonate with the observer’s own soul. A lover of music and spiritual theorist, Kandinsky had a passion for learning and expressing himself, which is what we celebrate on his birthday today. For without such passion, we would not have such great masterpieces or the existence of certain art movements which would make the art world a little more empty.

December Birthday’s:

Hundertwasser, A True Artistic Spirit (born dec.15)

Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Friedensreich Hundertwasser would have been 86 years old today, had he still been alive to celebrate his birthday, but his art continually celebrates him everyday. A master of many crafts from art to architecture to clothes to stamps, Hundertwasser had a clear vision, and that was to express his belief of a life in harmony with nature and individual creativity. An adopted name, Friedensreich Hundertwasser means “Peace-Realm Hundred-Water” and as an environmental activist and believer in peace, the name could not be more suiting.

Hundertwasser’s art is an original and sporadic vision that was expressed through pictorial art in an effort to express environmentalism and philosophy. Those common themes in his work utilized bright colors, organic forms, a reconciliation of humans with nature, and a strong individualism with a rejection of straight lines.

Citadelle verte de Magdeburg, Architect: Hundertwasser

It is interesting to know about Hundertwasser that his rejection of lines, and therefore the bases of his art, comes from his childhood experiences. A Jewish child masquerading as a Christian during Nazi Germany, he had early fears of the square marching battalions. This led him to oppose the “geometrization” of art and architecture. In a letter from 1954 Hundertwasser described the square as “geometric rectangles compressed columns on the march”, and he commented later how straight lines were “godless and immoral” and “something cowardly drawn with a rule, without thought or feeling.” So this association is what shaped his art into a focus on circles, waves, and spirals.

Hundertwasser, “944 Blue Blues,” 1944. Mixed Media

In addition Hundertwasser believed that as nothing was straight in nature so nothing should be in life, and if you were not close to nature then you were unhappy. A fascinating man with many principles and ideas, Hundertwasser is the symbolic figure for a non-conformist way of living. Living simply throughout his life even with his successes, Hundertwasser’s art reminds us that life is not meant to be order and rigid, but a beautiful sea of colors and forms, waiting to be discovered.

MORE ARTICLES ON HUNDERTWASSER:
Memories of Hundertwasser House, Vienna

View our Friedensreich Hundertwasser inventory here: Friedensreich Hundertwasser inventory

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Please visit our Art Education page here: Masterworks Fine Art Gallery Art Education

Helpful Tips for Packing Two Dimensional Framed Art

There could be many reasons you need to pack your own art. You are moving into a new home, shipping the work out as a gift, or simply putting the work in storage. Whatever the reason, there are a number of disasters that can occur from the work getting damaged to even lost which could be a mixture of fault. That is why it is always best when moving to hire professional movers, and best to take it to professional shippers when shipping, but sometimes that is just not possible and so below please find some helpful suggestions for packing your art. Continue reading

Post-Impressionism and Modernism Explained

Braque, “L’Aquarium”, 1950 Color Etching

Post-impressionism and modernism are two categories of art that are constantly under discussion in the art world as they are loosely defined. Artists seem to be interchangeable in the classifications depending on the auction house or gallery which makes it confusing to understand where they fit in the broader context of art history. All of this is because post-impressionism can technically fall under modernism as it briefly encompasses the same time period. However post-impressionism describes a specific location and time period, completely disregarding what is occurring in the rest of the world which modernism wholly encompasses. Continue reading