Matisse: Cutting it Fine

Henri Matisse, Snow Flowers, 1951 (Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998 ©
Henri Matisse, Snow Flowers, 1951 (Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998 © 2014/Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art/© Succession H. Matisse)

Mali Morris considers Matisse's late work on the occasion of the exhibition Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at Tate Modern, on view from April 17 – September 7, 2014.

Writing about Matisse's Snow Flowers (1951), Morris notes: "This chromatic orchestration in and out of pictorial space is inseparable from a literal, collaged layering, as fronds overlap or touch edges, some crisp, some soft. The intricacies of the flat white opaque forms are seen against rectangles of broad directional washes, and this opens up yet another distance. It is a dance through time as well as space, as the eye keeps returning to these never-static relationships. The strangest feeling, as I remember it, was to locate the white shapes locked safely into the colour grid, but to see them also as free and ready to enter our space, our world... The conundrum of these masterpieces is that they are decorative without being designs, pictorial without being paintings, heart-stopping in their directness, their economy, their inventiveness."