Matisse’s Cut-Outs as Environments

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Charles Kessler blogs about the achievement of Matisse's late collages on the occasion of the exhibition Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at Tate Modern, on view through September 17, 2014.

Kessler writes: "like Abstract Expressionist painting, Matisse's late cut-outs are large and environmental in their impact. Not only are they large, often encompassing entire rooms, but Matisse intended groups of them to interact with one another… Shapes drift from one cut-out to another – e.g., a negative cut-out (the part of the paper left over) might be incorporated into an adjacent work – and colors harmonize and interact among works. Matisse's environments are more palpable and immediate than any room decorations of the past. Rooms painted by Fragonard in the 18th century, for example, are imaginary worlds set in a space behind the frame – a different space from our own. We look through the picture plane at a fantasy world. With Matisse's cut-outs, the viewer becomes a participant in a 'real world' experience."

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