Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Snow Flowers

Artist:
Henri Matisse (French, Le Cateau-Cambrésis 1869–1954 Nice)
Date:
1951
Medium:
Watercolor and gouache on cut and pasted papers
Dimensions:
68 1/2 x 31 3/4 in. (174 x 80.6 cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, 1998
Accession Number:
1999.363.46
Rights and Reproduction:
© 2017 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Not on view
During the last decade of his long life, Henri Matisse produced some 270 paper cutouts. Although they constitute independent works, many also served as maquettes for projects as different in scale and purpose as book illustrations or designs for liturgical vestments and stained-glass windows. During the 1930s, Matisse had already used paper models to help him compose his paintings. Then, after two serious operations in 1941 left him in poor health, the artist worked more and more with paper cutouts-something he could do sitting up in bed or in an armchair. With scissors, Matisse cut shapes from sheets of paper that his assistants first had colored with gouache. These would be pinned into position and, once finalized, glued onto a white or multicolored ground. After the late 1940s, when the size of these cutouts increased so much that they had to be executed on the wall, he would direct his assistants as to the specific placement of the shapes and they would carry out his vision.

By 1951, the artist had stopped painting and devoted himself exclusively to making large-scale paper cutouts and drawings. Later compositions, such as this one, focused on larger, bolder, and more simplified shapes. Here, the abstracted "snow flowers" are a mixture of white plant and petal forms, placed against a patchwork of bold color. Although they appear to be wholly imaginary, one small plant growing up from the bottom center edge suggests that Matisse's title and his shapes were inspired by the snowdrop, a small frosty-white, bell-shaped flower that blooms in early spring.
Inscription: Signed, dated, and inscribed (lower right): Fleurs de Neige Henri Matisse/ 1951
the artist, Nice (1951–d. 1954); his widow, Mme Henri Matisse (1954–58); Pierre Matisse, New York (from 1958); Pierre Noël Matisse, Los Angeles (in 1960); [Galerie d'Art Moderne, Basel, until 1968; sold on July 25, 1968 to Sperry]; Mrs. Vicci Sperry, Los Angeles (from 1968); [Acquavella Galleries, New York, until 1975; sold on October 8, 1975 to Gelman]; Jacques and Natasha Gelman, Mexico City and New York (1975–his d. 1986); Natasha Gelman, New York (1986–d. 1998; her bequest to MMA)

Kunsthalle Bern. "Henri Matisse, 1950–1954: Les grandes gouaches découpées," July 25–September 20, 1959, no. 3.

Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. "Henri Matisse, 1950–1954: Les grandes gouaches découpées," April 29–June 20, 1960, no. 4.

Baltimore Museum of Art. "From El Greco to Pollock: Early and Late Works by European and American Artists," October 22–December 8, 1968, no. 127.

Buffalo. Albright-Knox Art Gallery. "Color and Field: 1890–1970," September 15–November 1, 1970, no. 34.

Dayton Art Institute. "Color and Field: 1890–1970," November 20, 1970–January 10, 1971, no. 34.

Cleveland Museum of Art. "Color and Field: 1890–1970," February 4–March 28, 1971, no. 34.

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "Henri Matisse: Paper Cut-outs," September 10–October 23, 1977, no. 117.

Detroit Institute of Arts. "Henri Matisse: Paper Cut-outs," November 23, 1977–January 8, 1978, no. 117.

Saint Louis Art Museum. "Henri Matisse: Paper Cut-outs," January 29–March 12, 1978, no. 117.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," December 12, 1989–April 1, 1990, unnumbered cat. (p. 249).

London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection," April 19–July 15, 1990, unnumbered cat.

Martigny. Fondation Pierre Gianadda. "De Matisse à Picasso: Collection Jacques et Natasha Gelman," June 18–November 1, 1994, unnumbered cat. (p. 273).

Le Cateau-Cambrésis. Musée Matisse. "Matisse, His Art and His Textiles: The Fabric of Dreams," October 23, 2004–January 25, 2005, no. 80.

London. Royal Academy of Arts. "Matisse, His Art and His Textiles: The Fabric of Dreams," March 5–May 30, 2005, no. 80.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Matisse, His Art and His Textiles: The Fabric of Dreams," June 23–September 25, 2005, no. 80.

London. Tate Modern. "Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs," April 17–September 7, 2014, no. 94.

Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs," October 25, 2014–February 10, 2015, no. 94.

Georges Duthuit and Pierre Reverdy. The Last Works of Henri Matisse, 1950–1954. New York, 1958, ill. p. 21 (color) [originally published as special issue of "Verve" nos. 35–36, 1958].

Henry J. Seldis. "The Magic of Matisse." Apollo 83 (April 1966), ill. p. 254.

Nancy Marmer. "Matisse and the Strategy of Decoration." Artforum 4, no. 7 (1966), ill. p. 33.

Jack Cowart. "Matisse's Artistic Probe: The Collage." Arts Magazine 49, no. 9 (1975), p. 55.

Jean Guichard-Meili. Matisse: Paper Cutouts. New York, 1984, no. 20, ill.

Pierre Schneider in Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, p. 28.

Sabine Rewald in Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pp. 248–49, 306, ill. (color and bw).

William S. Lieberman in Twentieth-Century Modern Masters: The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection. Ed. William S. Lieberman. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pp. 2–3.

Judith H. Dobrzynski. "20th Century Art Treasures Are Left to Met." New York Times (May 6, 1998), pp. A1, B6.

Pierre Schneider. Matisse. Rev. ed. (English ed., 1984). Paris, 2002, p. 697.



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