Henri Matisse
Jazz

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Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse
Jazz

20th May - 13th June 2021

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The cover of Jazz

In addition to his bold innovations in painting and sculpture, Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954) recognised the expressive potential of printmaking, and over the course of his career, he created a large body of graphic works that both informed and re-articulated themes he explored in other mediums. He also produced several extraordinary artist’s books.

 

Jazz was pivotal in Matisse’s transition from oil painting to the cut-out collages that dominated the last decade of his life. Bedridden during a prolonged convalescence following a serious operation in 1941, Matisse began to consider further the possibilities that “painting with scissors” offered—an experiment that endured for the last decade of Matisse’s life. The illustrations in Jazz derive from maquettes of cut and pasted coloured papers which were printed using the stencil technique, pochoir.

 

Henri Matisse working on paper Cut-Outs. Image: via Wikimedia Commons.
Henri Matisse
Le Clown

Pochoir printed in colours, 1947.
From: Jazz, Plate I. From the book edition of 270.
Printed on Arches paper by Edmond Vairel.
Published by Teriade, Paris.
(Duthuit Livres 22).
42 x 65 cm.

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Henri Matisse
Le Cheval, l'ecuyère et le clown

Pochoir printed in colours, 1947.
From: Jazz, Plate V. From the book edition of 270.
Printed on Arches paper by Edmond Vairel.
Published by Teriade, Paris.
(Duthuit Livres 22).
42 x 65 cm.

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The book title Jazz, evokes the idea of musical structure of rhythm and repetition, expressed by the explosive improvisations of colour plates and the experimental nature of the compositions. These vivid stencil prints are based on images realised from various shapes cut out of gouache-painted sheets of paper and are accompanied by poetic notes expressing the artist’s thoughts and opinions. The subjects of these compositions range from circus performers and music halls to Matisse’s travel experiences. The title suggests a connection between the process of making visual art and musical improvisation.

Henri Matisse
Les Codomas

Pochoir printed in colours, 1947.
From: Jazz, Plate XI. From the book edition of 270.
Printed on Arches paper by Edmond Vairel.
Published by Teriade, Paris.
(Duthuit Livres 22).
42.2 x 65 cm.

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Henri Matisse
Icare

Pochoir printed in colours, 1947.
From: Jazz, Plate VIII. From the book edition of 270.
Printed on Arches paper by Edmond Vairel.
Published by Teriade, Paris.
(Duthuit Livres 22).
42 x 65 cm.

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‘Jazz is rhythm and meaning’

–  Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse
Le Coeur

Pochoir printed in colours, 1947.
From: Jazz, Plate VII. From the book edition of 270.
Printed on Arches paper by Edmond Vairel.
Published by Teriade, Paris.
(Duthuit Livres 22).
42 x 65 cm.

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“These images, with their lively and violent tones, derive from crystallizations of memories of circuses, folktales, and voyages,”

–  Henri Matisse

The figure of the circus artist, usually depicted alone, is often seen as a metaphor for the artist himself.

Henri Matisse
Monsieur Loyal

Pochoir printed in colours, 1947.
From: Jazz, Plate III. From the book edition of 270.
Printed on Arches paper by Edmond Vairel.
Published by Teriade, Paris.
(Duthuit Livres 22).
42.2 x 65 cm.

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Henri Matisse
Le Lanceur de Couteaux

Pochoir printed in colours, 1947.
From: Jazz, Plate XV. From the book edition of 270.
Printed on Arches paper by Edmond Vairel.
Published by Teriade, Paris.
(Duthuit Livres 22).
42.2 x 65 cm.

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‘By creating these coloured, paper cutouts 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 realise to what extent, the work I am doing today is in step with the future’.

–  Henri Matisse in André Verdet, ‘Les heurs azuréennes’, in Hommage à Henri Matisse, XXe Siècle, Paris 1970.

Henri Matisse
Le Destin

Pochoir printed in colours, 1947.
From: Jazz, Plate XVI. From the book edition of 270.
Printed on Arches paper by Edmond Vairel.
Published by Teriade, Paris.
(Duthuit Livres 22).
42 x 65 cm.

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Henri Matisse and Lydia Delectorskaya, snipping paper cut outs at his studio in Nice.

© Paris match via Getty Images.

Henri Matisse
Formes

Pochoir printed in colours, 1947.
From: Jazz, Plate IX. From the book edition of 270.
Printed on Arches paper by Edmond Vairel.
Published by Teriade, Paris.
(Duthuit Livres 22).
42 x 65 cm.

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Matisse famously described his cut-out approach as, ‘drawing with scissors’ – which allowed him he explained, to link ‘line with colour, contour with surface’ of ‘cutting directly into vivid colour’, reminding him of the direct carving of sculptors.  In these terms, the cut-outs did seem to solve the conundrum Matisse had faced throughout his career: the tension between drawing and colour.  By cutting directly into the coloured paper ‘the contour of a shape and its internal area were formed simultaneously’, offering a solution to what had always seemed a challenging impasse’.

Such possibilities became clear to Matisse whilst work on Jazz, his first sustained cut-out project. He had used cut paper before in ballet projects but it was in Jazz that a process for expediency became what Matisse called ‘a cut-out operation’.

Henri Matisse
Le Tobogan

Pochoir printed in colours, 1947.
From: Jazz, Plate XX. From the book edition of 270.
Printed on Arches paper by Edmond Vairel.
Published by Teriade, Paris.
(Duthuit Livres 22).
42.2 x 65 cm.

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