“Nus Bleus 67”
Towards the end of his monumental career as a painter, sculptor and lithographer, an elderly and sick Henri Emil Benoit Matisse (1860-1954) was unable to stand and use a paintbrush for a long period of time, and so developed the technique of ‘Carving into colour’ creating bright, bold paper cutouts. Though dismissed by some contemporary critics as the folly of a senile old man, these “gouaches decoupees” (gouache cut-outs) in fact represented a revolution in modern art, a whole new medium that re-imagined the age-old conflict between color and line. In their deceptive simplicity the cut-outs achieved both a sculptural quality and an early minimalist abstraction which would profoundly influence generations of artist to come.
In 1952, one of Henri Matisse’s most productive late years, he created a series of blue color lithographs using his cut out technique, titled Nus BleusBlue Nudes. In deep blue against a white background, the figuresappear deceptively simple but took numerous studies and weeks of laborious cutting and arranging to create the perfect form. The poses are thought to be derived from those in Matisse’s fauvist masterpiece The Joy of Life and continue his exploration of the theme of the female form that was an important subject throughout his career.
These images reproduce his iconic pochoir designs. This lithograph was included in the Verve Revue Artistique et Litteraire Volume IX No. 35-36, printed in Paris in 1958. Matisse had specially composed the cover of this volume and under his direction, the first of these plates were printed in the 1954, and were completed in July 1958 by Mourlot Brothers. These lithographs were produced at the end of the artist's life and are the only edition of lithographs produced directly by Matisse working with Mourlot and are becoming increasingly scarce.
Lithograph on cream wove paper.
14 1/8 x 10 3/8 4inches sheet
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