Grab your scissors* & get over to the MOMA^ it's showtime in NYC. 

 Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs



Henri Matisse was born in Le Cateau-Cambr├ęsis, in northern France, on December 31, 1869. He embarked on a career in law, but took up painting while recovering from appendicitis. By 1892 he began an extended apprenticeship with the Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau, who encouraged Matisse to study the old masters and helped to develop his sense of color. Despite some early success at the official salons, he struggled financially. It was during the summers of 1904 and 1905, spent in the south of France, that Matisse’s work dramatically shifted. There, in the bright sunlight of the ports of Saint-Tropez and Collioure, he created optically dynamic works of bright, clashing color that were derided for their feral quality with the epithet fauves (wild beasts) when they were first exhibited. Known as Fauvism, the work from this period set Matisse on a career-long path that he described as “construction by means of color.” Fauvism’s vibrations were soon replaced by flat planes of color surrounded by arabesque contours, with subjects presented on a monumental scale. He published his ideas from this period about color, line, and composition in his “Notes of a Painter,” in 1908.

After a visit to Morocco in 1912–13 exposed him to the light, architecture, and textiles of that region, Matisse stayed closer to home, in the south of France, from late 1917 to 1930—a time known as his “Nice period.” His work, though still involved in the optical properties of color and composition, became more intimate, concentrating on the female figure, interiors, and still lifes. In the 1930s and 1940s he became increasingly active as a printmaker and published a variety of livres d’artiste. Matisse reinvigorated his study of color in his last years through his cut-outs made from brightly painted paper. He used this process for projects ranging in scale from intimate books like Jazz (1947) to his designs for the Chapel of the Rosary in the town of Vence to wall-size works. 

During the last decade of his life Henri Matisse deployed two simple materials—white paper and gouache—to create works of wide-ranging color and complexity. An unorthodox implement, a pair of scissors, was the tool Matisse used to transform paint and paper into a world of plants, animals, figures, and shapes. After this final chapter, during which the artist achieved the height of his creative powers, he died on November 3, 1954.

more about H.M.

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Henri Matisse

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b. 1955


    Eugene Richards, Christopher Wool in his East Village studio, (2006)

“I don’t want my work to feel all sweat-soaked and tortured. I’d like to be like a crooner, effortless seeming, smooth. That doesn’t mean it actually is easy. And it doesn’t mean you don’t have backbone, or even aggression. Like Frank Sinatra or Miles Davis maybe. It’s like magic. I want my things to just appear. Not be painted. Just appear. And that is scary too. It’s not magic like Tinker Bell. It’s more like the writing on the wall.” 

 -Christopher Wool



Christopher Wool was born in Chicago in 1955. He graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. Wool’s works span several mediums such as paper, photography and painting. He began developing his style during the mid 1970s, when he started creating allover abstract paintings that included multiple mark makings. His artistic influences are very diverse, but the process-based emphasis of Post-minimalism became very important in his work at this time. Starting out as a "Neo-Pop" painter, Christopher Wool explores painting's elusive and allusive qualities with a variety of methods including using commercial rollers to apply decorative patterns on white panels. "I became more interested in 'how to paint it' than 'what to paint,'" he claims. Wool's paintings about painting were engaging, gaining praise and collectors early on. 

Throughout the 1980s Wool’s emphasis on process increased as he created allover paintings that shied away from specific subject matter and form. Eventually, he began incorporating printmaking techniques such as patterned rubber paint rollers, rubber stamps, stencils and silkscreens to create his now famous enamel-on metal works. With this multiplicity of techniques, Wool created paintings that are highly reminiscent of wallpaper, or that include large monochrome letters that are at sometimes difficult to discern or cunningly depict partial words, and a biting message. 

In the last fifteen years Wool has introduced additional elements in his works such as spray paint and erasure with white paint over previously created marks. This tension between painting and erasing, gesture and removal, depth and flatness is the result of Wool’s endless exploration of artistic expression and the role that process plays in the creation of meaning for the artist.   Christopher Wool has exhibited extensively throughout the United States and Europe. Recent solo exhibitions of his work have been held in institutions such as the Museum Ludwig in Cologne in 2008, the Musee d'Art Moderne et Contemporain in Strasbourg in 2006 and the Centre d'Art Contemporain Geneve in Geneva in 2000. He has also participated in exhibitions in major institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Pompidou Center in Paris and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Wool has also participated in several international biennials, and his work has been featured in multiple publications. Christopher Wool lives and works in New York.

Christopher Wool and James Turrell at the  2013 Guggenheim International Gala

Christopher Wool probably not at Guggenheim International Gala.

The Guggenheim 2013

*Up big or go home.
- r.s.


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