Book of the Day: Henri Matisse: Cut-outs, Drawing With Scissors by Gilles Néret, Xavier-Gilles Néret
Drawing with scissors: The revolutionary late-period work by Matisse
Towards the end of his monumental career as a painter, sculptor, and lithographer, an elderly, sickly Matisse was unable to stand and use a paintbrush for a longer period of time. In this late phase of his life—he was almost 80 years of age—he developed the technique of ‘carving into color’, creating bright, bold paper cut-outs. Though dismissed by some contemporary critics as the folly of a senile old man, these gouaches decoupées (gouache cut-outs) in fact represented a revolution in modern art, a whole new medium that re-imagined the age-old conflict between color and line.
This fresh, standard TASCHEN edition of our original prize-winning XL volume provides a thorough historical context to Matisse’s cut-outs, tracing their roots in his 1930 trip to Tahiti, through to his final years in Nice. It includes many photos of Matisse, some rare color images, by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Brassaï, and the filmmaker Murnau and text from Matisse, Picasso, publisher E. Tériade, the poetsLouis Aragon, Henri Michaux, and Pierre Reverdy, and Matisse’s son-in-law, Georges Duthuit.
In their deceptive simplicity, the cut-outs achieved both a sculptural quality and an early minimalist abstraction which would profoundly influence generations of artists to come. Exuberant, multi-hued, and often grand in scale, these works are true pillars of 20th century art, and as bold and innovative to behold today as they were in Matisse’s lifetime.
Book of the Day: Hiroshi Sugimoto: Dioramas by Hiroshi Sugimoto
Hiroshi Sugimoto (born 1948) began his four-decade-long series Dioramas in 1974, inspired by a trip to the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Surrounded by the museum’s elaborate, naturalistic dioramas, Sugimoto realized that the scenes jumped to life when looked at with one eye closed. Recreated forestry and stretches of uninhabited land, wild, crouching animals against painted backgrounds and even prehistoric humans seemed entirely convincing with this visual trick, which launched a conceptual exploration of the photographic medium that has traversed his entire career. Focusing his camera on individual dioramas as though they were entirely surrounding scenes, omitting their frames and educational materials and ensuring that no reflections enter the shot, his subjects appear as if photographed in their natural habitats. He also explores the power of photography to create history—in his own words, “photography functions as a fossilization of time.” Hiroshi Sugimoto: Dioramasnarrates a story of the cycle of life, death and rebirth, from prehistoric aquatic life to the propagation of reptile and animal life to Homo sapiens’ destruction of the earth, circling back to its renewal, where flora and fauna flourish without man. Here Sugimoto writes his own history of the world, an artist’s creation myth. Hiroshi Sugimoto was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan, where he studied politics and sociology at Rikkyõ University, later retraining as an artist at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, CA. He currently lives in New York and Tokyo.