Diagnosed with cancer in 1941, Henri Matisse was forced into a wheelchair after surgery. Along with his illness he discovered "a second life"-or as I see it-a second sight.
From as early as 1912, Matisse was painting women-indeed women filled his paintings-and somewhere in the backgrounds of these sensuous women we can see Matisse's cutouts forming. By the 1920's, Matisse shed the clothes and consistently painted the feminine form as "odalisque." The keen observer can trace his figures there-and see the future-bold, brilliantly colored "Matissian" lush cutouts, or as he called it "painting with scissors."
Zorah on the Terrace, 1912, (l.) & Figure décorative sur fond oriental, 1925, at right
Before his surgery those shapes were finding their way directly onto the female form in earnest.He designed costumes for the Ballet Russe after Leonide Massine, director, saw Matisse's preliminary work for The Barnes Foundation "Dance" mural in the artist's studio.
Matisse pinning cut-outs onto dancer Alicia Markova for Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo production Rouge et Noir.
Beautiful Russian assistant, Lydia Delectorskaya, may have created some of the inspiration in what is now seen as Matisse's greatest period-the last fourteen years of his life.
“Une Seconde Vie”
"I have found the cutout to be the simplest and the most direct way to express myself." Henri Matisse
"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."
The moment I saw Issa's newest dresses by designer Blue Farrier-I thought Matisse. Farrier has taken Matisse's cut-outs & color and placed them on the feminine form again-
It's interesting that Farrier hasn't seen the Tate Modern's Cut-Outs exhibition. She says rather: "I was intrigued by Picasso's muse, the painter Françoise Gilot, and I wondered where she and other influential female artists like Barbara Hepworth or Niki de Saint Phalle would holiday, and how they would dress there."
It appears that Farrier has vision-or "second sight" too-and it is the "future."
London’s Tate Modern has produced a film from their Matisse Cut-Outs exhibition:
“Bold, exuberant and often large in scale, the cut-outs have an engaging simplicity coupled with incredible creative sophistication.” The Tate Modern