Room 5: Vence, The studio

The two paintings in this room – among the last he ever made – show the interior of Matisse’s home and studio at Villa le Rêve in Vence, Southern France.

The studio, which had long been a favourite subject, was now also becoming the physical foundation for his cut-outs, which he composed directly on the wall. The cluster of cut-outs here is a partial reunion of works that began on a single wall of his Vence studio.

Originally Matisse conceived of this group as one whole composition. The paper shapes were pinned to the wall, allowing him to move pieces around, rotate or invert shapes and try new combinations.

Today the shapes have been carefully traced and glued into their final positions, but while Matisse was working the tendrils of his plant forms would gently wave as air passed through the studio.

A ship builder wanted to buy the whole studio wall to be mounted under glass and displayed in a new luxury boat. Matisse declined, concerned about the effect of humidity on the paper, and instead had the individual sections mounted and framed separately.

Family activity

Matisse called some of the cut-out shapes in the big cluster in this room masks. Which cut-out would you choose as your mask? Which one is closest to your mood today?

Download the full guide for families [PDF 535 Kb] and bring it with you on your visit to the exhibition, or you can pick up a copy at the exhibition entrance.