Icarus (Jazz Portfolio, 1943-44), 1947
Gift of Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, 3rd (Blanchette Hooker, class of 1931)
Dimensions: Sheet: 16 5/8 x 25 3/4 in. (42.23 x 65.41 cm)
Signatures, Inscriptions and Markings v
Signed (on frontispiece): H. Matisse
Inscribed (on frontispiece): 85/100
These twenty pochoir prints by Matisse are perhaps the freest expression of his late career. The paper cut-outs were worked on by Matisse at his home in Vence between 1943–1946 while he was often in ill-health and frequently confined to bed or his wheelchair. They were then printed as stencils in an edition of one hundred by the publisher Tériade for his Editions Verve in 1947. These were done without text while the one-hundred-and-fifty-page book by the same name with Matisse’s text, written in his own script, was published in a larger edition of two hundred and fifty copies. The text and images were not related, hence the ability of the illustrations to stand on their own merits. The images were largely inspired by Matisse’s memories of the circus, popular legends, music halls, and his travels. In this series, images of acrobats co-habit with those of Icarus or the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood. The artist likened the act of cutting pure colors with scissors to that of the sculptor carving into stone. The intense and vibrant images are a summation of his love of color and movement.