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The Snail was made in the Hôtel Régina at Nice in the South of France and is one of Matisse's later cut-outs. He said 'I first drew the snail from nature, I found an image in my mind purified of the shell, then I took the scissors'. He combined pairs of complementary colours - red/green, orange/blue, yellow/mauve - to create a vibrant effect.
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A French painter, draughtsman, sculptor, printmaker, designer and writer, Henri Matisse came to art comparatively late and made his reputation as the principal protagonist of Fauvism. He went on to develop a monumental decorative art, innovative both in its treatment of the human figure and in the role accorded to colour. His long career culminated in a highly original series of works made of paper cut-outs or gouaches découpées, which confirmed his reputation, with Picasso, as one of the major artists of the 20th century.
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