Our Christmas exhibition 2017 will feature over 40 original lithographs and collotypes
Between 1950 and 1954, the year of his death, Matisse created some highly innovative, brightly coloured gouache paper cut-outs. Illness had confined him to a wheelchair and severe arthritis made it difficult for him to paint. Some of the resulting colours were so strong that Matisse's doctor advised him to wear dark
In 1953 it was decided to reinterpret these works as lithographs. Matisse personally directed and supervised the first 'pulls' during 1954, in collaboration with the renowned lithographers Mourlot Frères of Paris. Founded in 1921, Mourlot worked with many of the great artists of the 20th century, including Picasso, Miró, Vlaminck, Bonnard and Dufy.
Matisse's joie de vivre was unimpaired by old age. He wrote, what I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or disturbing subject matter ... like a comforting influence, a mental balm - something like a good armchair in which one rests from physical fatigue.
All these prints are original lithographs from the 1954 edition after Matisse’s cutouts. They are not later reproductions and are not to be confused with modern posters.
Poésies Antillaises is a beautiful example of the extraordinary gift for drawing, the ability to incorporate and to express so much through line reduced to its simplest form, which was one of Matisse's greatest legacies to 20th century art.
In 1945, following the success of his series of lithographs under the titles Visages, inspired by Reverdy's poetry, Matisse began working with several exotic models, mostly Polynesian, to prepare illustrations for an ambitious suite of lithographs that he hoped to do in homage to his friend, the poet John-Antoine Nau.
Nau's poetry took its themes from voyages in the Antilles and in particular to Martinique where the facial sculpture of women from the Islands, with their exoticism and richness, was a great inspiration.
Matisse completed and proofed all the stones for the Poésies Antillaises series in 1945-46 which, in a letter to Mourlot, he called striking and superb. However for some reason the actual edition of the album was not pulled at that time. The work was finally published in 1972 by the Paris lithographer Fernand Mourlot, who scrupulously followed both Matisse's maquettes and his final corrected proofs.
WEA Matisse one-day school with Fiona Lucraft : Friday 24 November 10am - 4pm (only a few places left). £25 (including teas and coffees – lunch +£5).
Limited to 30 places – book early to avoid disappointment