Henri Matisse, French, 1869 - 1954
Composition Green Background (Composition fond vert), 1947
Gouache, cut papers, and pencil on paper
41 × 15 7/16 in. (104.1 × 39.2 cm)
Work on paper (Drawing)
CA 5204

© Succession H. Matisse / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
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In the last ten years of his life, Henri Matisse largely abandoned easel painting and began to experiment with an entirely new medium: the paper cutout. By “drawing with scissors,” the artist deepened his engagement with vibrant colors and fluid lines, which he had pursued since the early 1900s as a leader of the avant-garde art movement known as Fauvism. To make the cutouts, Matisse used scissors of varying sizes to cut abstract, vegetal shapes from papers that his studio assistants had colored with gouache, a quick-drying, matte paint. He made Composition Green Background, 1947, while living in Vence in the south of France. There, he covered the walls of his studio-residence with pinned-up cutouts, frequently rearranging the papers with his studio assistants. This work, one of many inspired by the memory of a trip to Tahiti in 1930, was included in Matisse’s first cutout exhibition in 1953 when it was already part of the de Menils’ private collection.