Marvellous Matisse

Taking advantage of an unexpected free morning, I decided to brave the masses and try to get in to MoMA to see the Matisse Cut-Outs exhibition. Apparently it was Tate Modern’s most popular exhibition to date, and before it opened in New York they were predicting huge volumes of eager viewers this side of the Atlantic too. It was certainly a lot busier than I would have expected for an off-season Monday morning, but in the end I had less than an hour to wait before my allocated timeslot, and whiling away some time in MoMA is not exactly a challenge – in fact I came across a display of Toulouse Lautrec lithographs, which was well worth a look.

Once inside, the Matisse show itself was more than worth the wait, but I did find myself wondering what somebody who was less of a fan would have made of it. (Tom was, of course, at work, so I couldn’t get his views, but I suspect he would have been rather less taken with it all than I was.)

Although I enjoyed looking at all the brightly coloured smaller pieces in the first couple of galleries, my favourite works were the larger pieces towards the end of the exhibition, particularly the ones for which information was provided about how and where they were created. Matisse tended to pin his cut-out shapes directly onto the walls of his studios and home, and I was especially taken with The Swimming Pool, which he made in his dining room when visiting the pool in real life became uncomfortable for him.

I really liked that photographs were displayed alongside certain works to illustrate how the pieces of paper were moved around by Matisse – La perruche et la sirène was a wonderful example of this, as the space occupied by the figure of the mermaid in the top right corner was at various times taken instead by other blue figures, some of which were on display elsewhere in the same exhibition gallery. It was also fun to see famous pieces like La Gerbe (which is a lot bigger than I’d thought it was) and of course The Snail

It seems rather odd to be blogging about such an exuberantly colourful exhibition without including any pictures, but I noted the no photos sign at the start of the exhibition and (for once) didn’t even try to take any cheeky snaps. The Guardian website has a lovely gallery though.

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