The Culture Show

The Culture Show: Henri Matisse - A Cut Above the Rest

Radio Times
Review by:
David Butcher

Everyone loves Matisse's cut-outs, don't they? They're the most famously joyous and vibrant images in 20th-century art. As Tate Modern mounts a blockbuster retrospective, Alastair Sooke tells the story, and it's an amazing one, of how Matisse, recovering from intestinal cancer in 1941, took up a pair of scissors and invented a new artform full of explosive colours and pure forms. 

Interestingly, we learn how at the time many thought these new works were infantile and decorative: "paper jokes", one critic called them. In a splendid overview, Sooke gathers insights and meets Jacqueline Duheme, who worked with Matisse in the 1940s.

About this programme

In 1941, after a near-fatal operation for cancer, French artist Henri Matisse developed a new technique when he began to cut up painted paper and combine the shape into new artworks. To coincide with a major Tate Modern exhibition this summer, Alastair Sooke presents a profile of the artist, with contributions by the Tate's Nicholas Serota, biographer Hilary Spurling and Jacqueline Duheme, who worked with Matisse in the late 1940s.

Cast and crew


Alastair Sooke
Nicholas Serota
Hilary Spurling
Jacqueline Duheme


Kate Misrahi
Janet Lee