Tuesday, 22 July 2014

A Cut Above the Rest

We went to the Tate Modern to see Matisse's Cut-Outs exhibition.

Matisse had a very long art career, but it was in the last 10 years of his life that he focused on collage work, which became his best known works.

When we got home, Tiger read up on Matisse's biographies and discussed the works we saw in the exhibition using the post cards bought at the exhibition.  We discussed Matisse's use of colours, his placements of the various shapes, and his use of representational shapes.  Tiger says his favourite pieces of work from the exhibition are the Large Decoration with Mask, followed by The Sheaf.

While seeing the original works gave us a good personal experience with the artist's creation, we found the following video very informative in helping us appreciate Matisse's collage work at a deeper level:

I wanted Tiger to practise some discipline in his collage work so I gave him a sticker book that requires him to replicate six pieces of Matisse's collage work.  At first, Tiger thought that the exercise could be completed very quickly because the sticker book looked  like it is meant for preschoolers.  However, as he started on the work, he soon found that duplicating a master's work accurately isn't such an easy task afterall.  The level of concentration required to reproduce masterpieces proved too much for Tiger after a while so he took two days to complete all six pieces.

After the initial exercise, Tiger was ready to make his own Matisse-inspired collage.  Matisse went to Tahiti to get inspirations for his colourful cut-outs.  While I did not send Tiger to Tahiti to get inspiriation, I did send him to look at our very colourful flower bed to get ideas on the interactions of shapes and colours.

Once Tiger had his ideas formulated, he started work.  In the spirit of emulating Matisse, Tiger used the biggest pair of scissors in the house and cut the shapes out directly, without any preliminary sketching.

The only suggestion I offered Tiger was to keep using the postcard copies of Matisse's work as his reference.  Once Tiger cut out all the shapes he wanted and arranged them in the way that reflected the ideas he had, he then made a few more changes to the arrangements on the paper before the cut-outs were finally glued down.

Here is the happy artist with his work:

Has anyone noticed the influence of our brief encounter with the jellyfish a week or so ago?

When Tiger showed me his final product, I was quite impressed because:
  • he did it all by himself;
  • he cut all the shapes freehand;
  • the work is very lively and is full of energy;
  • he has paid attention to the lesson and has made mental notes of Matisse's work because the master's influence is clearly identifiable.

This post is linked up to:
  1. Hip Homeschool Hop - 7/22/14
  2. Virtual Refrigerator
  3. Weekly Wrap-up: The one where Charlotte returns
  4. The Homeschool Mother's Journal (7/26/14)


  1. Wow-that is impressive. I hadn't realised that there is a Matisse exhibition going on. Just thinking about making some time to go.

    1. Thank you, Sarah! Art brings us much joy, when it's done well. :-) The Matisse exhibition is worth visiting, just to look at the actual size of the collage work. I find them to be quite moving.

  2. Great work Tiger! His piece looks fantastic. Matisse is such a fun artist to explore.

    1. Thank you, Marie! Matisse's work changed so much in the last years of his life, after major life-threatening illnesses, so one would expect those collage work of his to be very mature artistic pieces. They are certainly very different from his paintings in the Fauvist period. I hope we'll study his paintings at some point. :-)

  3. I love Tiger's art work! So good.
    I'm actually venturing out next week with my eldest twin to the national art gallery, just the two of us. Maybe I ought to go to the Tate instead!

    1. Thank you, Claire. Wow, what a rare opportunity for you and C (or is it L?) to have a day to yourselves! Either gallery is good -- each has different things to offer. I wish you both have a very good day out! :-)

  4. Thanks for sharing the steps you show in this and the link to the sticker book. His final project turned out quite impressive.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Jennifer. We were both surprised at how useful the simple sticker book turned out to be. :-)


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