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Matisse – the maestro who invented a new medium of art to overcome the physical limitations of cance

Did you know Henri Emile Benoît Matisse, one of the most influential figures in modern art invented a new medium of art when he became wheelchair and bed bound after undergoing surgery for abdominal cancer?

Born in the textile town of Le Cateau-Cambrésis (Northern France) on 31 December 1869, Matisse was the founder and leader of the art movement, Fauvism –a style of modern art that emphasized on painterly qualities and strong colour over the representational or realistic values retained by Impressionism.

Among the various interesting events that occurred in the life of Henri Emile Benoît Matisse, one of them was his lifelong rivalry and friendship with Pablo Picasso. Their works were a source of inspiration to each other and Picasso once said, “ No one has ever looked at Matisse’s painting more carefully than I; and no one has looked at mine more carefully than he.“ The one thing made Matisse memorable forever was his invention of paper cut out and it soon became a new medium of art.

In 1919, while designing a decor for the opera Le chant du rossignol, Matisse first used the technique to cut forms from colored paper and arrange them as collages. Several decades later, In 1941, Matisse was diagnosed with duodenalcancer. He underwent a series of surgeries that left him surgery that left him writhing in pain and infirm. Unable to paint or sculpt, he turned to the medium he had rarely used and began creating cut paper collages from brightly coloured sheets. When Picasso and his lover, Francoise Gilot visited Matisse that year, they were blown away by his works and narrated their awe, “ A complete world emerged from his hands, full of strength and vitality… We were delighted – more than delighted: fulfilled, enchanted and beguiled.”

The works which Matisse produced, accompanied by his written thoughts, were published in a book Jazz in 1947. Popularly known as the “cut-outs”, Matisse’s work in this new medium is considered his final artistic triumph. He finished his last sculpture in 1950 and his final painting the following year with paper cut-outs as his sole medium of expression till his death.

On 9’th June 2018, Delhi’s contemporary artist Shantala Palat is conducting a special workshop where the Matisse style of paper cut out collage making will be taught. This workshop will be held at Aparna Caur Fine art Gallery, 4/6, Siri Fort Institutional Area, New Delhi 110049.

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