Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs

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Henri Matisse. Zulma. 1950

Henri Matisse (French, 1869–1954). Zulma. Early 1950. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted. 93 11/16 × 52 3/8″ (238 × 133 cm). Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

GLENN LOWRY: In this work, Matisse explored a new a direction for the cut-outs: figuration. Here, we see him working with the idea of recognizable forms and using cut paper to create a scene.

SAMANTHA FRIEDMAN: Zulma is a work that has a closer relationship to an easel painting than many of the other cut-outs. We see a woman in a room. She has an orange stripe down her middle and blue sides, a black haircut. And we see her between two tables, clearly in an interior with a vase of flowers beside her.

JODI HAUPTMAN: The table, if you look closely, he's cut it in perspective. It's the one work, I think, in the whole exhibition where you have a very definite sense of depth, the way you would in a traditional painting. That placement of the table is what gives that work this idea that, okay, you know where the figure is in space; you know where the table is. Because he's created a space.

GLENN LOWRY: Matisse had many visitors to his studio during this period of his creative life. His assistant Jacqueline Duhême remembers one fellow artist in particular:

JACQUELINE DUHEME: Picasso was very jealous! He was really struck by the paper cut-outs. He said, ‘He is crafty as a monkey! This is a wonderful find!’. He was struck by Matisse’s invention. He thought it was genius. He said ‘At his age, he still comes up with things like that. It gives me hope!'