This blog is mainly about books, but art means very nearly as much to me. I couldn’t miss the exhibition of Matisse cut-outs at Tate Modern and I got down to see it last week. He is an artist that I love and admire. He said that he wanted his art to be like an armchair for a tired businessman (I sometimes think of that when I am writing – it’s not an ignoble aim for fiction either). Certainly for me looking at his work is pure pleasure, the closest I can get to the south of France without going there, but actually I think it is more than that in its celebration of colour and light and form. It is such a celebration of the material world, so full of joie de vivre.
There is something particularly life-affirming about the cut-outs. From the early 1940s Matisse was such poor health that he could no longer paint, but this didn’t stop him from working. With the cut-outs he moved into a entirely new phase of his work and continued until he died aged 85 in 1954. This got me thinking about artists and longevity. Other artists that I admire – Titian, Goya, Picasso – continued working into old age with no decline in their creative powers, despite painting being such a physical activity. It seems to me that it is not quite the same for writers, something I might explore in another post.
Meanwhile I recommend the Matisse exhibition. It’s glorious.