Before his death in 1954, Henri Matisse forbade the reproduction of his recent original artwork. This publication of the entire corpus of the last works of one of the few giants of modern art is an event of major significance in the art of today and tomorrow. It was his wish that all of his art appear in one volume, a volume that could stand as the comprehensive manifestation of this period. Now this conclusive testament of the most brilliant colorist of our time, reproducing his collages and drawings in truly sustained degrees of unparalleled excellence is at last available in an edition limited to two thousand copies.
Henri Matisse's complete work from 1950-1954 may be viewed here and purchased. Following his completion of the Vence Chapel, Matisse did no oil paintings whatsoever. Instead, his work consisted of a personal type of collage, and the freedom of his medium brought a new facility and dimension to his vibrant genius. Working constantly in his final years, Henri Matisse reached a dominant expression in his art.
The first lithographic plates to be included in this volume were executed under Matisse's own direction in 1954. The succeeding work was completed under the metuculous supervision of his friend and publisher, Teriade of Verve. As in the earlier volumes, Picasso and the Human Comedy, The Intimate sketchbooks of Georges Braque, and Marc Chagall's Illustrations for the Bible, this artwork is magnificent by any criterion. The color lithographic plates by Henri Matisse, in fifteen to twenty impressions of color, were printed by Mourlot Freres and the monochrome heliogravure plates were printed by the master printer Draeger Freres.
Some years ago in a preface to a showing of Matisse's collages, Teriade wrote: "Pure color, flat color and its corollary, line design, have always directed Matisse's main researches. The miracle is that he has been able to hold passionately to that primary guiding principle, even to the invention of his cut-paper art work of today, a logial conclusion and absolute freeing of the painter.
"Draw with the scissors," said Matisse. The cut is the design even of the color, the shape that color imposes on itself by its own harmony. The creative movement of the hand operates to cut into what exists rather than to draw in the imaginary. The pen or the crayon draws signs in a void. With scissors, the artist keeps the form in his own hands, weighs it, develops it, disengages it from the colored mass, makes of it a solid element which will be registered in the place the eye designates for it, in order that correct resemblances may have their origin. The work affixing begins. From color to color, without intervening irrelevancies, communication is established, the compostion (of the art work) is formed.
"One could attribute to these cutouts of a great painter a character of relaxation. I believe, with many of those who have seen Matisse work without letup these last years, that this is a crowning period in the development of his art and a fascinating date in the painting of these recent years."
The last works of Matisse: 1950-1954 was reproduced in colour lithography. These works on paper were executed by the artist, Henri Matisse, with papers colored in gouache, cut with scissors and pasted. The first lithographic plates were printed during the year 1954 under his direction. The lithography in color was printed by Mourlot Freres.
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