This book ingeniously narrates Matisse’s paper-cutout process visually, using the same medium as the artwork created by the painter while bedridden during his final years.
Amodeo’s elegant cutouts pay homage to the great artist by illustrating the evolution of Matisse’s use of this medium, from the creation of simple shapes such as birds and bees, through analysis of color harmony and relationships and exploration of positive and negative space, to pattern and composition. The artwork is so skillfully applied and photographed that the illusion of cut-paper shapes is maintained throughout. The elderly, bespectacled figure of Matisse is portrayed in cutout form as he experiments with shapes, first cutting out a simple bird, then adding shapes reminiscent of seaweed and fish inspired by his travels in Polynesia, then flying like the birds he is creating. Not satisfied with the white shapes, Matisse asks his assistants to paint sheets of paper in a range of shades so he can cut directly into color and experiment with different color combinations. Eight of Matisse’s original works are reproduced at intervals throughout the book, carefully chosen to illustrate key aspects of the artist’s intention.
In its inventive approach to teaching art history, this book should inspire teachers and students alike to experiment with color, shape and form in the same free and expressive mode as the master. (Informational picture book. 5-10)