Paper cutouts allow me to draw in color. I see it as a simplification. Instead of drawing the contour and putting color into it–one modifying the other–I draw directly in color.—Henri Matisse
Those damn curls. You’ll notice that I only use them this one time; I wasn’t crazy enough to try it again. What created the challenge was not only the fact that the paper was so thin, but that the color, when wet, became translucent. Light pink is not a color that works well in this form! Only by putting another darker shade of red under it is the pink even visible at all. Without some form of backing, the paper disappears causing the skin to look as though it is covered in some very disturbing wrinkles. Trying to create curls that were visible to the camera was nothing short of a nightmare.
Yet, for Matisse the cutouts were a simplification of form, allowing him to direct his energies more directly toward the function of color. As a painter devoted to the intricacies of color, Matisse was no stranger to the challenge of trying to find exactly the right shade and hue to match what he was trying to communicate. Mixing paints and powders would sometimes consume so much of the day that darkness would arrive with only a handful of brush strokes having actually been placed upon the canvas.
What’s important at this juncture is to realize that in changing from paint to paper Matisse was not giving up on his artistic form, but expanding it; he took advantage of his physical limitations to explore color in a different manner, but never did he stop thinking of himself as a painter. Photography has experienced a shift in form as well, having moved quite solidly from film to digital media. Some see this shift as a fundamental change in how they take pictures. Yet, if one considers the latter method merely an extension of the former one is likely to find more cohesion between the two.
The function of form is not to create a rigid box within which all creative interpretation of that form must exist. Form is more of a platform on which expression is displayed. The contents of expression can, and should change on a regular basis. Just as art forms evolve on a global scale, so must our personal form evolve to keep our expressions vital to the current conversation.