Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs – reviews of 'joyous' Tate show

Apr 17, 2014

Tate Modern exhibition of Matisse's late, great artworks is joyous, fascinating, and not to be missed

Gouache painted paper cut-outs on paper on canvas - © Succession Henri Matisse/DACS 2013

What you need to know
A major new exhibition of work by French modern master Henri Matisse opens at the Tate Modern today. Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs surveys Matisse's late career when illness forced him to abandon painting and he began making pictures with cut-out coloured paper.

The exhibition showcases 120 Matisse cut-out works made between 1936 and 1954, including The Snail, and the artist's famous Blue Nudes. Runs until 7 September.

What the critics like
This summer show offers the first comprehensive, in-depth survey of the "exuberant closing chapter in the great modernist's career", says Rachel Campbell-Johnston in The Times. As both an art historical and atmospheric re-creation of the final great, glorious phase of a groundbreaking modernist, it should not be missed.

This "beautifully realised exhibition changes our understanding of what Matisse achieved in the cut-outs", says Richard Dorment in the Daily Telegraph. From now on we'll see them not simply as delightful arrangements of shapes and colours but as works of art that touch the spirit through the imagination.

"What a joyous and fascinating exhibition this is," says Adrian Searle in The Guardian. Ravishing, filled with light and exuberance these cut-outs unleashed the marvellous potential of art to come.

What they don't like
Delight in the sensual shapes and vibrant colours that will make this Matisse show a record-breaker, "but don't be seduced by the claims of genius", says Brian Sewell in the Evening Standard. These are insubstantial, transient works, rather than some spiritual and mystical essence of art.

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