Matisse Cut-Outs at Tate Modern

Small Dancer Red Background

Henri Matisse, Small Dancer on Red Background, 1937-8. Image from The Guardian.

Today my friend Katie and I visited Tate Modern for the colourful and vibrant Matisse Cut-Outs exhibition.

This fantastic exhibition is – according to co-curator Nicholas Serota – a ‘once in a lifetime show‘ given the quality and quantity of work on show.

Small Dancer on Red Background connected with me immediately, the only figurative work that can be read as masculine. Other works such as the Blue Nudes, Zulma, The Parakeet and the Mermaid, Acanthuses and the Sheaf feature exclusively female subjects.

Adrian Searle’s review captures perfectly the spirit of the exhibition: “Colour dances, and our eyes dance with it, following contours and edges, sliding from shape to shape, wallowing in a whiteness that becomes electric, jumping from positive to negative and back again. There is no stasis, no arrest, but a constant discovery of newness at every turn: a swallow swerves in flight, a shark swims the wall. Pinned to his chest, Icarus’s heart explodes. Foliage proliferates and bees swarm. A mermaid appears, where a thoughtful blue nude once sat, watched by a parakeet”.


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