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  • 15 April 2014, 12:48

Matisse 'Cut-Outs' Go On Show At Tate Modern

The most comprehensive exhibition ever devoted to Henri Matisse's famous "cut-outs" will go on display at Tate Modern.

Around 120 of the French artist's pieces will be shown together for the first time, including celebrated works such as the seated Blue Nudes and the original models for his illustrated book Jazz.

Matisse was widely regarded as one of the most significant artists of the last century, and his technique of cutting out painted pieces of paper to create works of art was considered ground-breaking.

He called the practice "drawing with scissors".

Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota has co-curated the exhibition personally, and described hosting the collection as the "most extraordinary and exciting moment" for the gallery.

The artist began the process of cut-outs in 1943 while in his 70s, following a bitter divorce and amid the Nazi occupation of France.

Sir Nicholas told Sky News: "Many people regarded them slightly as the meanderings of an old man rather than a great artist, but gradually they began to understand how important they were.

"Artists began to use the cut-outs as ingredients for their own work, so from the 50s onwards you see artists picking up on what Matisse was doing and they become incredibly influential."

Matisse worked on the art while he was plagued by ill health and bedridden, often cutting out shapes and directing technicians to assemble the pieces for him.

Despite his illnesses and the turbulent period for the country, the creations became Matisse's most vibrant and colourful work.

From his bed Matisse had his walls covered in seabirds, shells and marine life, but the most famous piece in the collection is of a less exotic animal - the snail.

His great granddaughter, artist Sophie Matisse, believes the work needs to be seen up close to be truly appreciated.

She said: "To see them in their original state is a luxury beyond belief and I think people do get a connection when they see the cut-outs.

"There's a physical nature that they can connect with and feel, so it's a beautiful opportunity."

The exhibition also includes newly discovered photographs and film footage of the artist at work with his team.

Matisse: The Cut-Outs runs at Tate Modern from April 17 until September 7, before moving to New York.

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