Room 8: Zulma and Creole Dancer

As Matisse’s skill and experience with the cut-out technique increased, so too did the scale of his work.

For the first time, in Zulma, he gives a sense of depth in a cut-out composition, with receding space suggested by the angled table on which the figure leans.

Made and exhibited when Matisse was eighty, Zulma was widely praised for its radical approach, hailed as the most youthful work in an exhibition of far younger artists.

Matisse worked very intensively, sometimes completing a cut-out in just one or two days. Although he relied on his studio assistants to pin the paper shapes in place during the day, he would continue to consider a composition overnight, reworking it with their help the next morning.

Creole Dancer is based on sketches he made of a dancer invited to perform in his studio, and was made in a single day using left over pieces of painted paper.

Family activity

The paper Matisse cut up was painted with gouache, a quick-drying matt paint.

The colours he used have names like ‘Light Japanese Green’, ‘Deep Cadmium Yellow’ and ‘Persian Violet’. What names would you give the colours he uses in The Thousand and One Nights?

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.