October 9, 2014
Seeing this show demonstrated to me why museums have nothing to fear from the internet — while I am familiar with these images by Matisse, it was a whole new experience seeing them in person. In photos the cut-outs are pretty much indistinguishable from the lithos that some of these were made into, and only in person could I see the discreet pieces of cutout paper.
And seeing them in this new way — as actual cut pieces of paper, helped me to see these items with fresh eyes. Too often with the art of the masters, I can’t help but glaze over and feel like “seen it already” but here I was able to get excited by the again like they were something new and undiscovered.
And there is plenty to get excited about. Some are more lyrical, and other pieces have an amazing, almost pop-art graphical feel to them.
Some of the pieces are designs for final uvjects in a number of different media, including books and magazines, stained glass windows, fabric (church vestments and scarves). Others are final works in their own right, in every scale. One featured piece is the “The Swimming Pool” a full room installation, which was displayed for the first time in a way most faith to the Matisse’s original intent — the room is recreated without the traditional gallery entrances and exits. This again seemed to allow us to see this freshly — not as wall-sized artworks but as an installation in the late 20th century sense.
There were three media displays that each enhanced the exhibit in their own way. An interactive Kiosk allowed visitors to explore the Chapel in Vence to see the work in it’s completed form. THe kiosk ormat worked well as it allowed you to peruse a slideshow to get a sense of the 3 dimentional space. In a anither gallery there was a projection of a movie of Matisse working with assistants to create and hang one of the cutouts. Here the projection seemed in keeping with the historic footage. Finally there were some flat screens showing video of the rrestoration of the Swimming Pool, where the more modern flat-screen presentation was reserved for this contemporary footage.
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