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Composition, Black and Red is another of Henri Matisse's cut-out designs which he concentrated on in the latter part of his career. This is a relatively simple piece sectioned off into two main areas.
It would be in the late 1940s that Matisse would publish a number of books which contained series of drawings. He would paint pieces of paper in bright colours before then cutting shapes out of them and then arranging the objects onto pages of the book. It was brilliantly innovative and allowed the artist to continue to be creative even when he was confined to his bed. He would receive assistance as he worked, but was still able to be relatively independent in terms of his artistic work. He sensibly chose to work in a relatively minimalist manner, keeping things simple and accepting the restrictions that now lay upon him. The result was modern art, abstract shapes which could provoke conversation and excite at the same time. This technique kept his enthusiasm going and perhaps even extended his life as he found a happiness in this medium.
Matisse created leaf-like shapes from painted sheets of paper, sometimes creating the shapes from the remaining space, and other times from the remaining paper. He would then arrange these items within books. The right hand side here resembles a side profile in pink, with a small blue leaf shape added to the bottom right hand side. On the opposing area we find shapes in green, black and white which contrast beautifully amongst themselves as well as against the bright pink tones which sit across. This was a consistent format which appears throughout a series of cut outs that most likely came about in 1947.
Icarus, Blue Nude and The Sheaf remain amongst the artist's most famous creations but this highly prolific artist left behind several thousands of artworks by the time of his passing. He had an incredible drive and passion which helped to raise the quality of his work and also encourage him to continue to work right up to his last moments. Efforts have been made in recent years to produce comprehensive surveys of his entire career and to ensure that each and every creation is documented together in the same place, as hard as a task as that may seem. Progress has been made in that regard, but it seems inevitable that every now and again a new Matisse artwork will be discovered within a private collection that we were previously unaware of, though this is happening less and less as time moves forwards.