Matisse’s Blue Nudes & other cut-outs.
Images of his Blue Nudes and his other cut work can be viewed here.
I spent some time first researching how his cut-outs were produced and from what I’ve read it seems that the technique is different to what I have been doing so far. As much of what I’ve seen has been translated from French (both on the internet and by my very helpful French husband) I hope I’ve understood his technique correctly.
It seems that Matisse started with painted coloured paper from which he cut his shapes. These images were then pinned in place, quite often on his walls if he was creating something especially large. He could then review them, both the colour combinations (if using more than a single colour) and the placement of the components, and move them around until he was satisfied with the result. At this stage the collage was adhered to a base structure such as canvas or board so it sat permanently in place, forming his artwork.
I find the Blue Nudes images sharp, focused, harmonious as a series, uncluttered and effective in colouring. The cut-out detail, particularly outlining breasts and where legs intersect and cross, adds a complexity and depth to the uni colour silhouettes.
Eirene (in some places typed as Irene) Mort: born in Sydney Australia 17th November 1879, died Bowral NSW 1st December 1977.
Eirene Mort travelled extensively between Australia and England undertaking training in both places. She studied painting, medieval art, illumination, illustration and etching. Her biography (link below) details both her talents and the wide variety of techniques she undertook. She was particularly interested in Australia and native flora. Her etching ability produced detailed and fine line works with much complexity and this skill enabled her to design and produce intricate, multi-layered, paper-cut original stencil work, often depicting native plants.
As a founder of the Society of Arts & Crafts of New South Wales (NSW) in 1906, she designed the original logo and was a vice-president until 1935. The organisation continues and flourishes to this day and is a major showcase for artists from numerous art disciplines around NSW.
Her style is completely opposite to Matisse. Where he works in bold blocks and simplified shapes she has concentrated on detail and subtlety, bringing more realism and less simplification to her images.
Margaret Rose Preston: born in Port Adelaide, SA, Australia 29th April 1875, died Mosman NSW 28th May 1963.
A master at oil painting, monotypes, screenprinting and woodblock printing, Margaret Preston came to stencil prints later in life, in her 70s. She cut stencils and usually laid them over thin black cardboard before liberally applying paints with little or no finesse. This black base appears to give an outline, almost a stained glass effect, to the printed image. The drama created by the black adds to the vibrancy and liveliness of the works.
As with Eirene Mort, Margaret Preston has produced works very different to Henri Matisse, but it should be remembered that both ladies, whilst using stencils, were not collaging their work and this gave both the freedom to create painterly effects when applying the paints through the cut-out portions. Colours could be overlaid, blended and high detail achieved. Matisse was mainly able to create interest in his works by blocks of single colours – which had been prepainted before cutting and collaging, shape and composition of his art pieces. A very different outcome to Mort and Preston.
John Beard: born in Wales, UK 1943-
These ‘masked’ monoprints may not fit into the same stencil idea as those above but I’ve included them because I see a connection. Paper stencils create a resist, which the paint cannot penetrate, and the same applies to wax to a degree. Having done 2 wax and pencil drawings myself in the past I note that drawing and painterly products are unable to adhere to a surface treated first with wax. So by John Beard using wax on linen prior to applying oil paints he has, in effect, produced masked areas. A major difference between his work and that of Mort and Preston is that his masks are not removed but become part of the artworks themselves creating variation in texture, colour and shading.
One could almost say the same of Matisse as his paper cut-outs are in themselves the artwork, not a prop to be removed leaving behind the print.
http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/exhibitions/brian-sewell-on-henri-matisse-the-cutouts-tate-modern–exhibition-review-9261222.html – 20 good images of work from Henri Matisse: The Cut-outs exhibition.
http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/exhibitions/henri-matisses-iconic-blue-nudes-cutouts-back-together-in-tate-modern-exhibition-9258955.html – Images of the 4 Blue Nudes cut-outs together on exhibition in the Tate Modern.
http://www.adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mort-eirene-7665 – biography
Deborah Edwards and Rose Peel, Margaret Preston, 2005. Published by Art Gallery of NSW, The domain, Sydney. ISBN 0 7347 6374 3.
Art & Australia Vol46/4. Winter 2009. Published by Art & Australia Pty Ltd, Paddington, NSW. ISBN – none recorded. P 661 & 665.
I also appreciate the help of Lorna MacRitchie in sourcing relevant information.