Matisse's The Swimming Pool

Monday, December 14, 2015

Matisse's The Swimming Pool at the MoMA | Ruth Freemen, New York Times

I was doing research for my lifeguard novel, trying to figure out what poster Bea has hanging above her desk (Picasso? Matisse? Klimt?) and stumbled on Matisse's The Swimming Pool— Matisse’s first and only self-contained, site-specific cut-out. 

From the MoMA website:
One morning in the summer of 1952, Matisse told his studio assistant and secretary Lydia Delectorskaya that “he wanted to see divers,” so they set out to a favorite pool in Cannes. Suffering under the “blazing sun,” they returned home, where Matisse declared, “I will make myself my own pool.” He asked Delectorskaya to ring the walls of his dining room at the Hôtel Régina in Nice with a band of white paper, positioned just above the level of his head, breaking only at the windows and door at opposite ends of the room. The room itself was lined with tan burlap, a popular wall covering of the time. Matisse then cut his own divers, swimmers, and sea creatures out of paper painted in an ultramarine blue. The blue forms were pinned on the white paper, which helped define the aquatic ballet of bodies, splashing water, and light.

It is delicate and immersive and incredible. My jaw is still on the ground and I wish there was a time machine to take me back to the exhibit (that ended in February 2015). Next time it's up, we swimmers must go!


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