Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs (Kids)

*Oceania, the Sky* and *Oceania, the Sea*

Oceania, the Sky and Oceania, the Sea 89

Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954). Oceania, the Sky, summer 1946. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, on paper, mounted on canvas. 70 1/8 x 145 1/2” (178.3 x 369.7 cm). Musée départemental Matisse, Le Cateau-Cambrésis. Gift of the Matisse family, 2004. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

NARRATOR: Have you ever had a spot on your bedroom wall that you wish you could get rid of?

KID 1: An old sticker from when I was 5.

KID 2: A crayon mark.

*KID 3: Dirty fingerprints.

NARRATOR: Well that’s how this work of art started. Matisse had a stain on his wall too.

Fade up in background: sounds of scissors cutting paper.

NARRATOR: One day, he cut a bird out of white paper and pinned it over the stain. Matisse liked the way it looked on the wall.

Bing! Like an idea lightbulb going off. Then more scissors cutting, faster this time.

NARRATOR: So he cut out another shape.


Sounds of scissors cutting paper building, louder, faster, layering as we go.

NARRATOR: And another. And another.

Many-many scissors.

NARRATOR: Until there were plant and animal shapes all over his wall.

Abrupt silence. Then – burble. Like we have suddenly been submerged underwater.

NARRATOR: Do you recognize any of them?

GIRL 1: I see a fish.

BOY: Maybe a… jellyfish?

GIRL 2: Seaweed.

NARRATOR: Matisse loved the ocean. He wore goggles when he went swimming, and he remembered all the things he saw underwater. Does this picture make you feel like you’re floating alongside them? Or does it feel like you are flying over the water and looking down, like a bird?


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