A striking design with a single white alga shape decorated with jaunty green squares. Olivier Berggruen, a Matisse historian and son of his agent, says that the cut-outs are the embodiment of Matisse's artistic aim: "He had a clear idea of what art should do for us: it should make us happy and enhance our quality of life."
White Alga on Orange and Red Background
Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs
52.5 x 40.5 cm
Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, mounted on canvas
Date of work
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.