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Late works of Henri Matisse in exhibition at The Base

Matisse: Drawing with Scissors, a Hayward Gallery Touring exhibition from the Southbank Centre in London, is at The Base, Greenham from Saturday 8 to Sunday 30 June. 

The exhibition features the works of Henri Matisse (1869-1954) and 35 posthumous prints of the famous cut-outs that he produced in the last four years of his life (1950-54), when confined to his bed. It includes many of his iconic images, such as The Snail and the Blue Nudes.

The French painter, sculptor and designer, Henri Matisse was one of the 20th century’s most influential artists. His vibrant works are celebrated for their extraordinary richness and luminosity of colour and his spectacular paper cut-outs were his final triumph. 

Matisse continued creating highly original works into his eighties. For his cut-outs he used paper hand-painted with gouache, which he carved into with scissors: ‘the paper cut-out allows me to draw in the colour … Instead of drawing the outline and putting the colour inside it … I draw straight into the colour’. The colours he used were so strong that he was advised by his doctor to wear dark glasses.

The lithographic reproductions in this exhibition are taken from a special double issue of Verve, a review of art and literature, published by Matisse’s friend, the critic and fine art publisher Tériade, in 1958, four years after Matisse’s death. The publication was planned during Matisse’s lifetime and the first lithographic plates were prepared under his direction a few days before he died.

Matisse began his working life as a lawyer, before going to Paris to study art in 1890. At first strongly influenced by the Impressionists, he soon created his own style, using brilliant, pure colours, and started making sculptures as well as paintings. In 1905 he and his colleagues were branded the Fauves (wild beasts) because of their unconventional use of colour, and it was during this time that he painted his celebrated Luxe, Calme et Volupté (Luxury, Tranquillity and Delight).

‘There is no gap between my earlier pictures and my cut-outs’, Matisse wrote; ‘I have only reached a form reduced to the essential through greater absoluteness and greater abstraction’.

To offer everyone a chance to enjoy the works of Matisse there is a Free Entry Day (12 Jun) as well as a Relaxed Day (20 Jun), where there will reduced numbers admitted into the gallery and extra staff will be at hand to offer support to those with additional needs. 

Families are welcome to enjoy the exhibition at any time but on Parent and Baby Day (14 Jun) there will be soft play mats and toys provided within the exhibition space for the little ones to enjoy.

There is an opportunity to further your experience and enjoyment of Matisse with the exhibition response workshops. Create your own Matisse inspired artwork with Helen Mortimer in Silk Painting (21 Jun) or craft your own expressive art using paper and scissors with Tanya Reid in the Paper Paintings – Matisse Style (28 Jun) workshop. For more information on the history of this incredible artist there is the talk Matisse, King of Colour (13 Jun) led by Frank Woodgate who is a lecturer at the Tate and for the Arts Society.

Matisse: Drawing with Scissors will be at The Base, Greenham (RG19 6HN) from Saturday 8 – Sunday 30 June. Open Wed – Sun, 10am – 5pm. Tickets can be purchased at the advanced rate online at  or by calling the Corn Exchange Newbury Box Office on 0845 5218 218 (calls cost 2p per minute plus your telephone company’s access charge). Alternatively tickets can be purchased on the door at Honesty Café, The Base, Greenham. 

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