There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.—Henri Matisse
The concept is based loosely on the late-stage work of French painter Henri Matisse. By the time he was diagnosed with cancer in 1941, Matisse had all but stopped painting. After treatment and a couple of surgeries, his creative sense came back with a surge. The problem was that the effects of cancer left him in bed for sometimes days at a time, not a position exactly given to using a paint and brush. So, he began working with scissors, saying:
“Only what I created after the illness constitutes my real self: free, liberated.”
Ultimately, these works would be the ones that define Matisse’s career. The special paper he used would be prepared in large sheets by his assistants so they would be ready for him to cut whenever he felt like doing so. From this period come his most prestigious works, such as the stained glass at Chapelle du Rosaire in Vence, Negress, The Fall of Icarus, the Blue Nude set, and his 1947 book, Jazz.
Even the tissue paper wasn’t easy, though. There were three significant problems we had to overcome. The first was that tissue paper, being extremely light and thin, tears easily, especially when wet. We needed the paper to be wet to adhere to the body. Second was the fact that some colored tissue paper bleeds. When it bleeds, the skin is stained and it doesn’t just wash off. After some searching, we were able to find no-bleed paper. Our final problem came with how to get the paper to stick. Again, several failed experiments occurred before we finally created a diluted gelatin solution that works.
What we will present this week are newly processed versions, different from the originals. I pulled three photos, including today’s, from the shoot two years ago. The other four are older but among my favorites. Along the way, we’ll talk about a variety of things, such as illness, that impacts an artist’s, work. We hope you’ll enjoy the week.