Monday, November 9, 2015


Circus, pochoir plate 11 in Jazz (1947) 
World renowned for his paintings, sculptures, and drawings, Henri Matisse, the master of his craft, also embraced printed books as a means of artistic expression during the latter part of the artist's life. Aside from his prolific oeuvre Matisse personally enjoyed making books, and the collaborative synergy it entailed, working with poets, authors, printers and publishers.
     GRAPHIC PASSION; MATISSE AND THE BOOK ARTS on view at the Morgan Library & Museum through January 18, 2016, brings together thirty of these modern masterpieces and explores Matisse's creative process. Colin B. Bailey, director of the Morgan, "The extraordinary volumes n view show Matisse delighting in the smaller scale of book design and are a testament to the fact that his talent transcended any medium."
Poems de Charles d"Orleans, Paris,.Teriade Editeur
The exhibit segues into several venues from Early Work, First Artist Book to Function and Illustration, Creative Differences and Classics. JAZZ as pictured above in the photograph by Graham S. Haber, illustrates how Matisse's book work reached a crescendo of color in his last years when he began to experiment with gouache cutouts, or, as he called it, "drawing with scissors."At first the artist wanted to call it Cirque but then agreed on the title JAZZ, which was more in keeping with the free-form aphoristic text. Although Matisse was pleased by the sensational success of JAZZ, in private correspondence he conceded that the pochoir stencils did not adequately reproduce the "purity" of his scissor work.
     Creative differences were inevitable in these collaborative projects. Almost everything went wrong in the production of James Joyce's Ulysses, although the idea was brilliant.  Matisse and Joyce agreed on a pictorial scheme based on the Homeric subtext of the book but the publisher insisted upon a more conventional concept. 
    Not just Joyce, but also leading figures in the French avant-garde inspired the book work of Matisse---poets such as Rene Char, Pierre Reverdy and Tristan Tzara and acknowledged classics of French literature; the works of Charles d'Orleans, the cover pictured above, and the works of Ronsard and Baudelaire. A boating trip in the Bois de Boulogne gave Matisse the original idea for the angry swan for Stephane Mallarme's Poesies (1932) Matisse's first independent work of art based on a literary text.
Pierre Matisse sketching for The Swan in the Bois de Boulogne
     The exhibition explores Matisse's creative process based on a collection donated by Frances and Michael Baylson in 2010. In addition, the gift includes hundreds of monographs, exhibition catalogues and related ephemera. Adult programs include: YOUR BOOK, BOLD AND BRIGHT: Stencils and Cut-Outs Saturday November 13, 2-4 pm. and SKETCHING IN THE GALLERY on Saturday November 21. Drop in 11 am-1pm. CLASSICAL JAZZ: Musical Reflections on Henri Matisse takes place on Friday, November 13 at 7:30 pm. Visit The Morgan Library & Museum at 225 Madison Avenue, at 36th Street. 
     Ta Ta Darlings!!! You too can become a cut up artist, they're easy to make so tell your stories in bright colors and bold shapes. Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs at and in the left-hand column click on the direct link to a Blog that resonates with your interest.

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