If you want a life affirming experience, tear yourself away from the computer and get thee to Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at Tate Modern. Comprising around 120 of Matisse’s fragile paper works, this is the first time this many of the iconic cut-outs have been shown together. The opportunity has not been wasted, with the works displayed in airy rooms that give ample space to these energetic and colourful pieces.
As the story goes, Henri Matisse’s most famous cut-outs were realised in his 70s when, having enjoyed a successful painting career, cancer surgery left him weak and immobile. But the artist had to create so he devised a way to ‘paint’ using paper and scissors, cutting directly into paper that had been coloured by assistants with bright gouache, then pinning and repining on the walls around his bedroom and studio.
However, this was in fact not Matisse’s first experience with cut-outs. As the exhibition’s first room shows, the technique was initially used as a practical planning method, to help figure out the placement of objects in his still life paintings. On display are the earlier pieces and it’s a great opportunity to see them up close, pin holes and all and often with the pins still in place.
The second and third rooms are dedicated to the famous Dancers and Jazz cut-outs. I particularly love the display cases that show the Jazz works printed in a book beneath the framed original ‘maquettes’.
The pictures were meant to be accompanied by poems but the publisher opted for Matisse’s own illustrative and poetic handwritten notes instead. Running along all four walls of the room, this display of colour, shape and huge, rhythmic script is full of life. Alas, Matisse didn’t like the way that the reproduced versions of his art erased the subtlety of layered paper – god knows what he would feel about his work being discoursed through the medium of the computer screen!
Of course, the large scale pieces are the best known and they’re here in all their mesmerising glory. These naïve, organic shapes depicting plants, water and birds were a way for Matisse to feel part of nature even when housebound. The simplicity of these shapes belie the process that Matisse and his assistants went through, painstakingly arranging and rearranging until the desired expression was achieved.
It can’t be denied that we’re in the throes of a Matisse fashion moment right now and this exhibition will be as popular with fashion designers, makeup artists and graphic designers as art students and art lovers (the entrance price is the only downer, a whopping £18). For example, the designs on display that Matisse created for the cover of Verve magazine look as fresh now as they did in 1937 and as for the primary-hued Jazz pieces, well the Celine comparisons have already been made.
Expect the impact to last beyond one season though. This cheering show comes at a time when society’s mood is ready to be lifted. Sixty years after his death, I wonder if these Matisse cut-outs might make a deeper mark on our psyches.
Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs is at Tate Modern until 7th September. It will tour to the Museum of Modern Art in New York from 14th October to 9th February 2015.
I’m so thrilled for Rebecca C. Tuite who has just published her book, Seven Sisters Style (Rizzoli, £22.50). I stumbled across her site a while ago, when she linked to a blog post I wrote about Vassar Girls. She later emailed to let me know she was working on this very book.
If you loved Take Ivy, you could consider this the female version, but it’s so much more than a photo book. Taking us through the origins and evolution of female preppy style, via the elite ‘Seven Sisters’ American universities, we learn about feminism, sportswomanship, denim etiquette, prom chic and the big business of selling campus style to the masses.
If you’re a fashion scholar, a style enthusiast, or simply a lover of collegiate dressing, this is a beautifully illustrated, thoroughly researched and intellectually nourishing read. As I sat in my turn-up indigo jeans, navy cashmere crew neck, white ankle socks and oxblood Bass Weejuns, I devoured every page…
Beauty bits: Marc Jacobs Beauty, Allure Youtube, Tom Ford, Lipstick.com, contour mania, the Taviettes, Diptyque, YSL
MARC JACOBS BEAUTY COMES TO LONDON
So Marc Jacobs Beauty arrived in London a couple of weeks ago and no one knew. Not even British Beauty Blogger! I stumbled upon the entire range of it in the Marc Jacobs Mount Street store (after a quick recce of Celine – retail heaven). It’s not cheap but the colours are stunning and the lipstick packaging is right up there with Chanel’s push-click cases. The staff are super helpful and encourage you to try the products, but I haven’t yet. I definitely will soon though… Continue reading
There’s just no stopping Nike. Or Liberty. And as for the Nike X Liberty collaboration, it’s now in its 9th season and going stronger than ever. At a special presentation in the Liberty store, I was told that managing the demand is quite a feat, a fine balance between creating interest for the product and over hyping it. (I guess they need to try harder, the collection was almost sold out within three days of hitting the shop floor.) Continue reading
I spent last week doing the AW14 press day rounds and my early highlights include all the art-fashion collections emerging. Each X Other is an interesting collective of artists, musicians, designers and other creatives who translate their work into something wearable, beautiful and often poetic, the idea being that art is always around you. For AW14, they have teamed up with New York artist Maripol to produce these simple pieces printed with her recognisable Polaroids and club flyers…
Question: what do sexy-shoe designers do when footwear fashions shift from £600 super-stilettos to £100 trainers? Well I guess they switch focus to bags. Is this the reason for Charlotte Olympia’s forthcoming business-friendly line? The new line of work-appropriate leather handbags launches for AW14, focusing on structured top handles, totes and clutch bags. (I love this ruby red ‘Bogart’ top handle, above.)
But shoes aren’t totally neglected. There’s an accompanying ‘Nine To Five’ line of lower-heeled pumps that nod to Dellal-style whimsy (think leopard print and peekaboo details). Served up in a briefcase-style box, complete with matching stockings, look out for them in June on Charlotteolympia.com and Net-a-Porter.com.
“I see all these magazine articles aimed at business women proposing clutch bags for the office,” laughs Mireia Llusia-Lindh, “and it’s like, are you crazy! My customers need more than a clutch for their office bag, but it needs to look good.” Llusia-Lindh started life as a management consultant before bringing her business and creative brains together to launch her handbag line, Milli Millu (not to be confused with Meli Melo). Continue reading