Cut Out Creativity – Henri Matisse

Excellence doesn’t need to be complicated. Tate Modern are hosting an exhibition of Matisse’s cut outs this year. Would you like to see it with me?

Almost two and a half years ago, I ran a guest blog series on here called Heroes. In all there were a dozen contributions to the series, many of them still get searched for and read, and this one about Mrs Van Gogh is my personal favourite.

The most read post in the series is one about the inspirational artist, Henri Matisse, and it is to him I return today.

Cut Out Creativity

As he aged Matisse became ill and could no longer paint. You could forgive him for calling it a day and sitting back to admire his vast catalogue of work in his twilight years. And you wouldn’t need to.

Confined to his bed, Matisse continued to create great art using cut outs. Some of his most famous and stunning work was created in this final phase of his life.

Matisse snail

The cut out works are often very large. The Snail, shown here, is almost three metres square. It’s part of the Tate collection and I think it’s simply beautiful. This tiny image doesn’t begin to do the picture justice. What it shows me is that excellence doesn’t need to be complicated.


I love Matisse’s work. And what I love most of all is his adaptability. I imagine him thinking, ‘Can’t get out of bed to paint anymore? No problem, let’s make cutouts. I can design and cut them and my team can arrange the pieces just so’. Matisse’s drive to adapt in the face of adversity is inspiring, what a creative leader.

What heroics could you and your team achieve with a little of Matisse’s adaptability?

This One’s For You

Tate Modern is running a major exhibition of Matisse’s work this year, starting in April and running through to September. I’m excited about this and intend to visit it often, and here’s where you come in. My membership at Tate is a plus three, so if you would like, we can visit this exhibition together – with you as my guests. Would you like to join me? If you would – please just add a comment to this post, and we will work on the dates later.

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

7 thoughts on “Cut Out Creativity – Henri Matisse”

  1. OK folks – great that you want to come and see this. I am excited about the exhibition and about seeing it with interesting people. Really keen to see how you all inform my own perspective of the great man’s work. I will be in touch about dates, times etc via email.

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