The Culture Show

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

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



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.


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.