Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse's Cut-Outs - A Beginners Guide

Henri Matisse is widely regarded as one of the most influential figures of the 20th century. His innovative approach and unparalleled creativity have left an indelible mark on the world of modern and contemporary art.

Along with Pablo Picasso, Matisse is commonly regarded as one of the artists who best helped to define the revolutionary developments in the visual arts throughout the opening decades of the twentieth century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture.

Henri Matisse

Among his diverse body of work, the "Cut Outs" series stands out as a testament to Matisse's extraordinary artistic vision. In conjunction with our upcoming print release with British conceptual artist Epi (available here from 26th May), in this article we delve into the captivating world of Matisse's "Cut Outs" series, exploring its origins, significance, and enduring legacy.


The Origins of the "Cut Outs"

In the late 1940s, as Matisse's health declined, he found himself unable to stand and paint at an easel. Undeterred by his physical limitations the artist turned to a new medium – paper. This marked the genesis of the "Cut Outs" series. Using scissors, Matisse would meticulously cut out shapes from painted or coloured paper, arranging them to create vibrant and dynamic compositions. This unique artistic process allowed him to experiment with colours, forms, and compositions like never before.

Henri Matisse 

The Exploration of Colour and Form

One of the most remarkable aspects of Matisse's "Cut Outs" is his brilliant use of colour. With an unparalleled mastery of hues he employed bold and contrasting colours to create a sense of energy and dynamism in his compositions.

Henri Matisse

Often organic and curvilinear, the cut out shapes seamlessly interacted with each other, forming harmonious arrangements that exude a sense of joy and vitality.


Themes and Motifs

The "Cut Outs" series encompassed a wide range of themes and motifs that were recurrent in Matisse's oeuvre. The most obvious of which are i) nature and ii) the human figure. Through his cut-outs, he captured the essence of plants, flowers, and organic forms, simplifying them into elegant and abstract shapes.

Henri Matisse

Moreover, the human figure found its way into the "Cut Outs" series, showcasing Matisse's fascination with the female form and his exploration of movement and rhythm.


Exhibition and Critical Reception

Although Matisse initially intended the "Cut Outs" as preparatory work for his larger projects, their immense artistic value became apparent over time. The series gained widespread recognition and acclaim through exhibitions and retrospectives; showcasing the mastery and innovation of Matisse's approach.

Henri Matisse 

Enduring Legacy

Matisse's "Cut Outs" series has had a profound impact on the art world, influencing subsequent generations of artists. His revolutionary approach challenged conventional notions of painting and expanded the boundaries of artistic expression. Subsequent artists such as David Hockney and Ellsworth Kelly have since drawn inspiration from Matisse's cut-outs, incorporating similar techniques into their own works. The "Cut Outs" series continues to captivate audiences with its sheer beauty, evocative power, and timeless relevance.

Henri Matisse

The "Cut Outs" series remains an essential milestone in Matisse's artistic journey; showcasing his ability to innovate and adapt even in the face of physical limitations. The series stands as a testament to the power of artistic exploration and the boundless potential of the human imagination.


Epi's latest print release, 'Thoroughly Modern Matisse'. Produced exclusively with Dovehouse Studios

Shop the Epi x Dovehouse Studios 'Thoroughly Modern Matisse', exclusively available here from May 26th at 2pm BST.

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