• Opinion
Opinion

Opinion: On Matisse and why there is such a thing as a must-see show

Posted by Liv Siddall,

Two years ago when this Opinion feature started, Rob Alderson wrote a piece about the rampant rise of the “must-see” culture; shows which the media’s frenzy makes you feel like you have to go and see. Hands up who found themselves queuing for the Bowie show at the V&A without knowing much more about him than just the chorus to Life on Mars? Me. Who queued bottom-to-crotch in the rain with about 1,000 grumpy pensioners to catch a glimpse of Hockney’s A Bigger Picture at the Royal Academy? Also me.

Sometimes though, shows come along that are worth the hassle and Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs is one of those. Sure it’s the cost of a pay-day dinner in Soho and the chances of you getting a ticket are pretty slim, but it’s Matisse! Everyone’s talking about it, and this time it’s for good reason.

The show is intimate and friendly, making mac-wearing Henri out to be a cheeky rule-breaker rather than an untouchable, anonymous master which is perhaps the vibe you felt at the Hockney show. Matisse was born in 1869 and it was only in the late 60s that he began making his infamous cut-outs, confined to his bed or wheelchair due to ill-health.

His assistants would hold out the enormous slices of coloured paper which he would quickly carve into bright, wiggly shapes. He would then make the assistants climb on stepladders and stick on to the walls around him to make enormous collages. Sometimes he would sit in his wheelchair and draw all over the walls using a piece of charcoal attached to the end of a long stick.

  • Matisse-show

    Matisse: The Cut-Outs at The Tate Modern

The exhibition illustrates this side of Matisse’s character brilliantly, and not just through the work itself; the most delicious parts of the show are the films projected on to the walls and the very well-written blurbs on the walls. They describe how Matisse’s collages in the high-ceilinged rooms of his Vence mansion The Villa Le Rêve would flap against the wallpaper when the breeze came in through the high windows. They reveal secrets like Matisse was visually distressed when he had to throw away a cut-out of a bird.

That’s why this show so magical. Every day we are confronted with reports stating that we’re all dying from pollution, bad food, smoking and booze, or that everyone is overweight, or depressed, or both, or more. Going to this show is not just traipsing along to another sensationalist exhibition that Time Out are frothing at the mouth to get you to go and see; it’s testament to the joy of being alive, and of looking at the world appreciatively.

From Matisse in his chair waving his drawing stick around, to his splendid assistants, to Nicholas Serota returning to the Tate to accomplish his lifelong dream, and to those people I saw queueing up outside the Turbine Hall at 9:30am – it’s a joyous celebration of the triumph of creativity and spirit and positive vibes to counteract the negative ones we find ourselves thrown against daily. Surely that’s worth £20 and a queue?

  • 6

    Matisse: The Cut-Outs at The Tate Modern

  • 8

    Matisse: The Cut-Outs at The Tate Modern

  • 5

    Matisse: The Cut-Outs at The Tate Modern

comments powered by Disqus
Ls-300

Posted by Liv Siddall

Liv joined It’s Nice That as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our editors. She oversees itsnicethat.com and has a particular interest in illustration, photography and music videos. She is also a regular guest and sometime host on our Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Opinion View Archive

  1. Opinion-list-new

    This week It’s Nice That director Will Hudson talks about why he reckons the new Randall Wright-directed documentary Hockney is so brilliant. You can let us know your thoughts in the comment thread below.

  2. Opinion-list

    This week assistant editor Maisie Skidmore asks what it is about weekly podcast Serial that has got the whole world talking. As ever, we want to hear what you think! Add your two pennies in the comment thread below.

  3. List

    This week Rob Alderson examines Paper Magazine’s attempts to “break the internet” with their nude Kim Kardashian photoshoot. He asks if it’s actually a good cover, and what (if anything) it tells us about the magazine industry. As ever you can add your thoughts below…

  4. List

    Ahead of a panel discussion we’re hosting at London College of Communication next week we’re keen to explore whether the gap between design schools and the creative industries is a problem that needs addressing. You can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below…

  5. List

    In a special Opinion piece, Rob Alderson explains why the closure of London’s Kemistry Gallery is a cause for concern, but why its ambitious future plans need to be encouraged. You can add your thoughts using the discussion thread below…

  6. Lead

    This week online editor Emily Gosling looks at who can really claim authorship of artworks created using technology designed by someone else. Who can really take the credit for art that might not be possible without the tech know-how of others?

  7. List

    This week Rob Alderson reflects on an interesting blog by Chloe Markowicz which suggests that people are ashamed to call what they do advertising. As ever you can join the debate and add your comments using the discussion thread below.

  8. Main

    Wake up! Freshers’ Week is done – all that colourful IKEA kitchenware your mum got you is nowhere to be seen and you’ve gained 478 new friends on Facebook and an awkward conversation with your home friends about who you’re actually going to Glastonbury with next year. To be honest, being a fresher usually goes on for way longer than a week. After a month or so of partying and drinking Glenn’s Vodka and Robinson’s out of tupperware bowls you wake up with a whole load of briefs to tackle and studio space and equipment to fight over. This is the START of ART SCHOOL.

  9. List

    In recent months the question of so-called spec work has been raised with us over social media in light of various design competitions we have helped promote. Off the back of that we have spent a lot of time discussing this thorny issue with various people so as to formulate a consistent approach, although the nature of these things is that each is best analysed on a case by case basis.

  10. List

    This week Rob Alderson reflects on the launch of the new Design Museum website and the strange suggestion that the redesign should have been given to a British agency rather than Dutch studio Fabrique. As ever you can add your thoughts using the comment thread below…

  11. Opinion-list

    In the wake of the launch of Printed Pages Autumn 2014, Editor James Cartwright wonders and worries about the secret of designing a great magazine cover and asks for any handy hints you might have. Do him a favour and add your thoughts in the comments section below.

  12. Main

    In light of New York Fashion Week’s main event, a star-studded play put on by Opening Ceremony entitled 100% Lost Cotton, the It’s Nice That team began to ponder their own individual dream play, and what that would look like if they were given the chance to direct it. The results are pretty weird to be honest, but you can’t deny the appeal of each and every one in its own way.

  13. Main

    This week Editor Liv Siddall addresses the world’s distraught reaction to the announcement that MSN Messenger will terminate after 15 years in operation, and wonders if we should get so nostalgic and wet-eyed over technology.