In 1941 Matisse underwent abdominal surgery after which he found painting to be physically taxing. Increasingly, he devoted his time to exploring other forms of artistic expression, including drawing, book illustration and collage. Though frail, his power as an artist was undiminished and the last decade of his life proved to be one of the most fertile and astonishing periods of his whole career. This was largely due to his invention of a new art form composed of cut-paper collages, the "cut-outs", which became his main medium until his death in 1954. Resting on his bed or sitting up on a chair, Matisse would use scissors to cut from sheets of paper painted in different colours by his assistants, forming shapes which he would then combine to create striking compositions.
The publication of "Jazz" (1947), an extraordinary series of stencil prints after cut-outs based on circus imagery, heralded the rich possibilities of Matisse's new endeavour. The "Jazz" cut-outs were essentially book illustrations but over the five years that followed Matisse produced cut-outs of increasing size and complexity, ambitious, independent compositions on a variety of themes, including the famous "Blue Nudes" (1950-1952) and the enormous "Sadness of the King" (1952) of which Matisse said he was as proud of as any of his paintings. Towards the end of his life he expressed a wish to have these late works published as prints in a series which would form a companion to "Jazz". Accordingly, in his final year he supervised the production of 39 colour lithographs, created at the Mourlot Studio in Paris, which were published by Tériade in a limited edition shortly after his death. Our collection of cut-outs is taken from this work.
Artist: Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Title: "The Last Works of Matisse", 1958
Reference: Duthuit No. 139, "Catalogue Raisonné Des Ouvrages Illustrés"
Medium: Colour lithographs after the original cut-paper maquettes.
Sheet size: 1032 x 358 mm (40 3/4 x 14 1/8 inches)
Framed size: 1200mm x 540 mm (47 1/4 x 21 1/4 inches)
Edition size: 2000 copies on wove paper, tri-folds as issued.
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