February is probably not the best time to travel to NYC, but I seriously considered a quick, two-day trip to see the exhibition Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at MOMA. Matisse has been a favorite artist of mine for a good long time. I have written, or at least mentioned him often. When I analyze the reason for this admiration, I think it boils down to color. He definitely has a way with color! So, since I am seriously considering a long trip to Peru in the fall, I passed up on going to New York, even though flights and rooms were reasonably priced. I just went to a film about the exhibition instead.
The film was held on one night only, in one local theater only, but it was well worth it to get out in the cold, blustery wind. At night, no less! The film includes additions that would not be available at the actual exhibition (maybe?), such as a segment of ballet, including how it was filmed, a segment on a chapel which Matisse designed, and film of how the exhibition groupings were decided by the curator. I have to admit that I never knew he designed a chapel, and it’s wonderful! Here is an image of my favorite of the many stained glass windows he designed.
One could say that I’ve been consumed by this exhibition. I admit it. I bought the exhibition catalog, but there is no way that it could compare to the film. The pictures on a page of a book in no way allow one to see the scope of the cut-outs. The cut-outs are huge, and are much more impressive when seen on a wall, in context with the rest of cut-outs. But in defense of the book, which I have not examined thoroughly, there is more detailed information about the materials Matisse used. Of course, in the film, there were actual clips of Matisse cutting, of his assistants placing the cut-outs on the wall, and rearranging them at the direction of Matisse.
I am inspired once again, eager to do some designing. I came home all revved up after the viewing. I know I am not alone in this. Other artists have commented to feeling the same. By the way, I have always heard that Matisse started making the cutouts because he couldn’t see well. That was debunked in the film.
- Images of the chapel in Vence: here and here.
- Wikipedia article about the chapel
- YouTube video, plus there are many more videos listed on the side
- New Yorker article
- NY Times article and slide show
- Google image search
- Tate Museum page about exhibition. There are many links on this page and the MOMA page, of multimedia clips that are worth exploring.