During 1952, one of Matisse's most prolific late years, he created many ambitious paper cutouts, among them the present Blue Nude. Facing front with arms raised and breasts projecting sideways, the pose recalls various standing odalisques from his Nice period of the 1920s. The simple but effective composition is built up from six disjointed pieces of blue painted paper that seem suspended in space. It represents one of a dozen or so variations on the theme that Matisse created over a period of several months. That same year, his cutouts culminated in the production of The Swimming Pool (Museum of Modern Art, New York), a gigantic, dynamic composition with multiple figures.
The paper cutouts, prepainted with blue gouache, synthesized the intrinsic qualities of both painting and drawing—form, color, and line—and allowed the artist "to draw in paper," as he described it. This new idiom, which he had used for the first time in 1931 (while developing his large composition Dance for Dr. Albert C. Barnes), enabled him to create images in which form and outline were inseparable. During his final years, when illness left him bedridden, the cutouts became virtually his only means of expression, still exuding the master's undiminished inventiveness and creativity.
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Title:Standing Blue Nude
Artist:Henri Matisse (French, Le Cateau-Cambrésis 1869–1954 Nice)
Medium:Cut-and-pasted painted paper
Dimensions:44 3/8 × 29 in. (112.7 × 73.7 cm)
Credit Line:The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection, 2002
Inscription: Signed (lower right, in black paint): HM
the artist (1952–d. 1954; his estate, Paris, 1955; to P. Matisse); Pierre Matisse, New York (by 1958–d. 1989); his widow, Maria-Gaetana Matisse, née von Spreti, New York (1989–d. 2001); Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Foundation (2002; gift to MMA)
Kunsthalle Bern. "Henri Matisse, 1950–1954: Les grandes gouaches découpées," July 25–September 20, 1959, no. 7.
Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. "Henri Matisse: Les grandes gouaches découpées," April 29–June 20, 1960, no. 7.
Paris. Musée des Arts Décoratifs. "Henri Matisse: Les Grandes gouaches découpées," March 22–May 15, 1961, no. 14.
Museum of Modern Art, New York. "The Last Works of Henri Matisse: Large Cut Gouaches," October 17–December 3, 1961, no. 10.
Art Institute of Chicago. "The Last Works of Henri Matisse: Large Cut Gouaches," January 10–February 13, 1962, no. 10.
San Francisco Museum of Art. "The Last Works of Henri Matisse: Large Cut Gouaches," March 12–April 22, 1962, no. 10.
Los Angeles. UCLA Art Galleries. "Henri Matisse: Retrospective 1966," January 5–February 27, 1966, no. 340.
Art Institute of Chicago. "Henri Matisse: Retrospective 1966," March 11–April 24, 1966, no. 340.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "Henri Matisse: Retrospective 1966," May 11–June 26, 1966, no. 340.
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "Henri Matisse Paper Cut-Outs," September 10–October 23, 1977, no. 179.
Detroit Institute of Arts. "Henri Matisse Paper Cut-Outs," November 23, 1977–January 8, 1978, no. 179.
St. Louis Art Museum. "Henri Matisse Paper Cut-Outs," January 29–March 12, 1978, no. 179.
Fundación "La Caixa", Barcelona. "Europa de Postguerra, 1945–1965: Arte despues del diluvio," May 12–July 30, 1995, no. 67.
Vienna. Künstlerhaus. "Europa de Postguerra, 1945–1965: Arte despues del diluvio," September 10–December 10, 1995, no. 67.
Florence. Palazzo Medici Riccardi, Museo Mediceo. "Matisse e Tériade," September 20–December 8, 1996, no. 121.
Le Cateau–Cambrésis. Musée Matisse. "Matisse e Tériade," December 14, 1996–March 2, 1997, no. 121.
New York. Yoshi Gallery. "Matisse and Tériade: Collaborative Works by the Artist and Art Publisher, from Verve (1937–1960) and Lettres portugaises, 1946," May 1–June 28, 1997, no. 121.
Rome. Musei Capitolini. "Matisse: 'La révélation m'est venue de l'Orient'," September 20, 1997–January 20, 1998, no. 138.
Paris. Institut du Monde Arabe. "Le Maroc de Matisse," October 19, 1999–January 30, 2000, no. 94.
Musée Matisse, Nice. "Le Bleu de l'été: Matisse, un siècle de couleurs," July 8–September 25, 2000, unnumbered cat. (p. 19).
Paris. Galeries nationales du Grand Palais. "Matisse, Picasso," September 25, 2002–January 6, 2003, no. 151.
Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Matisse, Picasso," February 13–May 19, 2003, no. 172.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection," May 18, 2004–June 26, 2005, no catalogue.
Dallas Museum of Art and Nasher Sculpture Center. "Matisse: Painter as Sculptor," January 21–April 29, 2007, no. 137.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. "Matisse: Painter as Sculptor," June 9–September 16, 2007, no. 137.
Baltimore Museum of Art. "Matisse: Painter as Sculptor," October 28, 2007–February 3, 2008, no. 137.
London. Tate Modern. "Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs," April 17–September 7, 2014, no. 114 (as "Standing Blue Nude").
Museum of Modern Art, New York. "Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs," October 25, 2014–February 10, 2015, no. 114 (as "Standing Blue Nude").
Pierre Reverdy and Georges Duthuit. "Dernières oeuvres de Matisse, 1950-1954." Verve 9 (1958), p. 64, ill.
Jean-François Chabrun. "Peinture: Matisse, Comme le sourire de la Joconde et le rictus de Guernica." L'Express (March 30, 1961), ill.
Jack D. Flam. "Matisse's 'Backs' and the Development of His Painting." Art Journal 30 (Summer 1971), p. 360, fig. 18.
Kenneth Baker. "Performing Forms: Notes on Matisse's Cutouts." Artforum 16 (January 1978), p. 61, [general relevance].
Jean Guichard-Meili. Matisse: Paper Cutouts. New York, 1984, pp. 31, 62, colorpl. 30.
Gilles Néret. Matisse. [Paris], 1991, p. 246, fig. 348.
Gilles Néret. Henri Matisse Cut-outs. Cologne, 1994, p. 70, ill.
Gilles Néret. Henri Matisse. Cologne, 1996, p. 230, ill.
Louise Nicholson. "A Man of Infinite Taste: The Met has Bagged a Major Treasure in the Pierre Matisse Collection." Apollo 160 (October 2004), p. 85.
Magdalena Dabrowski in "Selections from the Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 61 (Spring 2004), pp. 40–41, ill.
Magdalena Dabrowski in Sabine Rewald. The American Matisse: The Dealer, His Artists, His Collection. The Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection. New York, 2009, pp. 116–17, 163, ill. (color), calls it "Standing Blue Nude with Arms Raised".
Jodi Hauptman inHenri Matisse: The Cut-Outs. Ed. Karl Buchberg et al. Exh. cat., Tate Modern. London, 2014, pp. 193, 289, no. 114, ill. p. 210 (color).
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