Henri Matisse’s Late-Life Cut-Outs

Henri Matisse, 'Blue Nude III,' 1952, ARS/Art Resource

Henri Matisse

Blue Nude III, 1952

Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

Confined to a wheelchair following illness and surgery, Henri Matisse did not allow his physical limitations to slow him down artistically. The final years of his life were some of the most prolific and fruitful of his career; he re-embraced his practice of cut-outs, producing works like his "Blue Nude" series. He worked with increased energy, painting and then systematically cutting out shapes, then handing them to assistants to paste to the wall or to canvases. In July 1954, five months before his death, Alberto Giacometti visited Matisse, drawing several portraits of the ailing artist. According to Giacometti, Matisse at that point was “a great artist still so absorbed in trying to create when death was at his doorstep, when there was no longer time.”

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