The Way We See
It’s unlikely that such an extensive exhibition of Henri Matisse’s late works will ever be put together again, says the curator of ‘Cut Outs’ at the Tate Modern. And it is astonishing to see them all gathered together here. When Matisse’s health was failing he switched to this paper-and-scissors technique and undermined the argument that great art arose from paint alone, because of all of hallmarks remained intact. His ability to compose and space these slabs of colour creates tension in the simplest designs, and he reduces figures to a single flow of movement in much the same way that Picasso did with his bull drawings.
The strange thing about seeing these large pieces in a gallery, though, is that they’re in no way contemplative artworks. You don’t sit in front of them for an age and quietly feel their power. Because we’re so familiar with bombardments of graphic art, we stop, look, pay respect, move on. I found myself hardly spending any time in the gallery, which is unusual for me. Ultimately they’re beautiful but surface-slick, like book jacket designs.
The Matisse exhibition is the late summer big-hitter for the Tate Modern, but that’s to risk missing the other exhibition currently showing there.
Kazimir Malevich, an artist as influential as he was radical, cast a long shadow over the history of modern art. This, his first retrospective in thirty years and the first ever in the UK, unites works from collections in Russia, the US and Europe to tell the story of revolutionary ideals and the power of art itself.
Malevich (1879–1935) lived and worked through one of the most turbulent periods in twentieth century history. Having come of age in Tsarist Russia, Malevich witnessed the First World War and the October Revolution first-hand.
Malevich invented Suprematism, a bold visual language of abstract geometric shapes and stark colours epitomised by his picture Black Square. One of the defining works of Modernism, the painting was revealed to the world after months of secrecy and was hidden again for almost half a century after its creator’s death. The exhibition requires more concentration and time to be spent on it, and is therefore the less popular but more rewarding of the two.