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Henri Matisse, Jazz
Twenty framed colour plates, plus addition text and slipcase
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Henri Matisse’s ‘Jazz’ was a limited-edition artist’s portfolio printed in 1947 of which only 100 were printed, it contained 20 brightly coloured prints based on cut paper collages inspired by the theatre and circus, accompanied by the artist’s written thoughts. The designs were initially intended as covers for Verve, a French art magazine published by Tériade. The name ‘Jazz’ was thought up by Tériade, approved by Matisse because it suggested a connection between art and musical improvisation.
Matisse had undergone surgery after being diagnosed with abdominal cancer in 1941. He was left chair and bed bound and was no longer able to paint or sculpt. His survival from such a major operation instead inspired him to develop a technique of making collages from cut forms which became known as the ‘cut-outs’.
Matisse used the Linel brand of gouache paint because of its brilliance and depth of pigment, which had the added advantage that it could be keyed to corresponding inks for printing. First, his studio assistants brushed linel gouaches on sheets of white paper which once dry was used by Matisse to cut the shapes out freehand, using a small pair of scissors. With the help of his Russian assistant, Lydia Delectorskaya, it took two years to complete the initial twenty collages.