Photos: Henri Matisse Cutouts: The Joy of 'Painting With Scissors'

matisse20
The Parakeet and the Mermaid. 1952. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, and charcoal on white paper. Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Acquired with the assistance of the Vereeniging Rembrandt and the Prince Bernhard Cultuurfonds © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The hottest ticket in New York right now is not The Book of Mormon or Kinky Boots, nor Weezer or The Brain Cloud. It is entry to MOMA's exhibit of nearly 100 colorful scissor-and-paper cutouts by Henri Matisse, made in the final creative years of his long life.

Here's a chance to skip the MOMA lines and enjoy at your own pace the dazzling images The Guardian's Jason Searle described as "a joyous and fascinating exhibition … I eat it with my eyes and never feel sated." When a similar collection of Matisse's cutouts were shown at London's Tate Gallery, they soon became the most popular show ever mounted there.

In old age in the 1940s, as he descended into ill health, Matisse began work on his cut-outs. "The culmination of Matisse's long career, the cutouts reflect both a deep engagement with form and color and an inventiveness freshly directed at the status of the work of art," explains MOMA's press release. Matisse called his cutouts, "Painting with scissors."

Here in an exhibit bringing together his cutouts from museums all over the world can be found Matisse's lifelong interest in the human—particularly female—form and his extraordinary understanding of the use of color. As Matisse put it, "Cutting directly into color reminds me of a sculptor's carving into stone."

The exhibit continues until February 8 2015. Enjoy!

matisse1
The Swimming Pool (La Piscine), late summer 1952. Installed as nine panels in two parts on burlap-covered walls to make a frieze. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Mrs Bernard F. Gimbel Fund, 1975 © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse2
More elements of The Swimming Pool (La Piscine). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Mrs Bernard F. Gimbel Fund, 1975 © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse3
Two Dancers (Deux danseurs), 1937-38. Stage curtain design for the ballet Rouge et Noir. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, notebook papers, pencil, and thumbtacks. Musée national d’art moderne/Centre de création industrielle, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Dation, 1991. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse4
The Clown (Le Clown), 1943. Maquette for plate from the illustrated book Jazz (1947). Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, mounted on canvas. Musée national d’art moderne/Centre de création industrielle, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Dation, 1985. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse5
The Fall of Icarus (La Chute d’Icare), 1943. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, and pins. Private collection. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse6
The Codomas (Les Codomas), 1943. Maquette for plate XI from the illustrated book Jazz (1947). Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, mounted on canvas. Musée national d’art moderne/Centre de création industrielle, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Dation, 1985. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse7
Panel with Mask (Le Panneau au masque), 1947. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted. Designmuseum Danmark. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse8
Composition, Black and Red (Composition, noir et rouge), 1947. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted. Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA. Gift of Professor and Mrs. John McAndrew. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse9
Composition Green Background (Composition fond vert), 1947. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, and pencil. The Menil Collection, Houston. Photograph: Hickey-Robertson, Houston. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse10
Palmette (Feuille violet sur fond orange), 1947. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted. Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Marron, New York. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse11
White Alga on Orange and Red Background (Algue blanche sur fond orange et rouge), 1947. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted. Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Marron, New York. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse12
Two Masks (The Tomato) (Deux Masques [La Tomate]), 1947. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted. Mr. and Mrs. Donald B. Marron, New York. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse13
Pale Blue Window (Vitrail bleu pâle), November 1948–January 1949. Second maquette for the apse window for the Chapel of the Rosary, Vence. Two-part panel: gouache on paper, cut and pasted, on kraft paper, mounted on canvas. Musée national d’art moderne/Centre de création industrielle, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Gift of Mme Jean Matisse and Gérard Matisse, 1982. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse14
Zulma, early 1950. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted. Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse15
Maquette for Red Chasuble (front), late 1950-52. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse16
Maquette for Red Chasuble (back), late 1950-52. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse17
Cover maquette for the book Matisse His Art and His Public, 1951. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Mrs Simon Guggenheim Fund, 1968. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse18
Nuit de Noël. 1952. Maquette for stained-glass window. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, mounted on board. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Time Inc. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse19
Memory of Oceania (Souvenir d’Océanie), summer 1952–early 1953. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, and charcoal on paper, mounted on canvas. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Mrs Simon Guggenheim Fund, 1968. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse21
Venus (Vénus), 1952. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, on white paper, mounted on paper panel. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund, 1973.18.2. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse22
Blue Nude II (Nu bleu II), spring 1952. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, on white paper, mounted on canvas. Musée national d’art moderne/Centre de création industrielle, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Purchase, 1984. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse23
The Sheaf (La Gerbe), 1953. Maquette for ceramic (realized 1953). Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, on paper, mounted on canvas. Collection University of California, Los Angeles. Hammer Museum. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Sidney F. Brody. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse24
The Snail (L’Escargot), 1953. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, on paper, mounted on canvas. 112 ¾ x 113” (286.4 x 287 cm). Tate. Purchased with assistance from the Friends of the Tate Gallery, 1962. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse25
Large Decoration with Masks (Grande Décoration aux Masques), 1953. Preliminary maquette for ceramic. Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, and ink on white paper, mounted on canvas. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund, 1973.17.1. © 2014 Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
matisse26
Hôtel Régina, Nice, 1953. Photo: Hélène Adant. Centre Pompidou – MnamCci – Bibliothèque Kandinsky