One of the great things about living in New York City is that things are open late. The grocery store at the corner stays open until 1 am, the drug stores are open 24 hours. Once in a while, even the museums stays open over night. Last weekend was one of those instances where the MoMA decided to stay open all night to allow people the opportunity to see the Matisse cut-out exhibit before it closed on Tuesday. Since it was my birthday weekend, Fausto was being extra accommodating and agreed to venture out with me. We had a big cup of coffee to stay awake and headed over to the museum around 10:30 pm.
We got there and the museum was packed with long lines snaking around the building. Apparently everyone else had the same idea as well. I should have known better – nothing happens in the city without lines. We dutifully got in line and waited for our turn to get tickets. What we didn’t know was that you’re assigned a time slot when you buy the ticket, and you can only go in during that specific time. When Fausto got to the front, he was told that the next available time slot was at 3:00 am. Luckily, the exhibit was sponsored by Bank of America and that was our bank so we our tickets for FREE. We saved $24 dollars and got to go through the priority lines to see the exhibit right away. It worked out great because I don’t think I would have lasted until 3 am.
After we were waived through, we walked to the side to wait for the elevator. About thirty of us crammed into the enclosed space and made our way to the 6th floor. This should have been an indication of how crowded it was, but I was still shocked when I entered the exhibition. The rooms were packed full of people that it was hard to move around. All the body heat raised the temperature to almost an unbearable level.
Decoupage, the art of paper cut-out was used by Matisse extensively to help him figure out composition as he designed his murals and many other projects. Part of the exhibit, shows a video of Matisse in his element, with his big scissors cutting the vibrant colored papers into many shapes. These shapes and cut outs would then be pined and repined by his assistant as Matisse played around with composition and placement. What started off as a tool, became the source of his inspiration in his later life as he became ill and unable to paint or sculpt. He expanded on the cut-outs, creating more complex and versatile art that highlight colors and fluidity.
I am no art major, so I will not go into extensive detail about Matisse’s work when there are so many well written articles out there. What’s worth mentioning is the hypnotic feeling I get as I gazed upon his work. Even though it was just flat shapes, there is so much movement that it almost feels like the cut-outs are dancing across the room. The sensuality exuding from the Blue Nudes series are undeniable. There were so many unforgettable pieces, and for a few hours, we were immersed in Matisse’s genius. When we finally left at 1 am, the line was still growing.
His earlier decoupage works:
His later works: