CURATOR TALKS: MATISSE CUT-OUTS

Posted on April 24, 2014

The Snail 1953

Is it just us or do you also dream of a job where you can spend all day looking at beautiful pictures? We’ve always had a bit of an obsession with curators who make our favourite exhibitions actually happen. Browsing through great masters, travelling the world and working in amazing galleries to create an inspiring and visual feast for us to soak up and get excited about – what’s not to love about that sort of job? We’ve already waxed lyrical about Tate‘s new Matisse exhibition  - (win tickets to it here!) - but who better than its Assistant Curator Flavia Frigeri to give us a brief lowdown on the legend as well as a little insight into the sought-after career.

Can you give us a dummies guide intro to the Cut-Out and Matisse?

Most know Matisse for his painting and I think that’s why this exhibition will surprise a lot of people as it’s a completely new chapter in his life. He invented a new medium – the Cut-Outs – that was inspired by all of the things that have interested him in the past. Like his earlier work they are very colourful but colour becomes a material here. He physically cuts into the colour and pins the shapes he’s working on to the walls of his studio. He’s no longer limited to a canvas.

What is unique about the exhibition?

These works have never been seen together in such an extended way. This is the most comprehensive. It’s organized chronologically, so it takes you through the period step-by-step and how Matisse created the Cut-Outs as independent works in their own right. You’ll see how the scale changes – at the beginning they’re so small and eventually become so monumental and fill a whole environment.

What are the pieces you are most excited about?

A personal favorite and a standout piece is Jazz. It’s actually made of 20 individual cut-outs and is the illustration for a book. It’s the first time they’ve been shown in the UK, as they belong to the Pompidou’s collection and aren’t widely exhibited. It’s very special.

How do you start working on an exhibition like this?

The most exciting bit is reading and learning about the subject at the beginning. We then draw up an ideal checklist of works we really want that could substantiate our argument and also be visually appealing for those who are going to see the show. Then comes the difficult bit – finding the works. We started planning 5 years ago.

How did you get to your position?

I guess you always have an ambition to work somewhere like Tate. I studied Art History in Rome, then I did MA in the same subject but refined my area every time –  I focused on Modern Art from 1960s – and now I’m working on a phD. I always knew I wanted to go into curating so I did lots of work experience with Fellowships at the Guggenheim and eventually got my place at Tate.

How would you encourage young people keen to get into the field?

Go and see lots of shows! The other option is to do more traditional art historical route or there are more masters programmes focused on curating. Those are the two most direct routes.

Get the inside scoop on the exhibition in the making here:

Want to see the exhibition and more?! Be in with the chance to win an amazing weekend away in London including a night’s stay for two at the Ace hotel, tickets to Matisse and a £500 shopping spree! Enter here. Across the pond? Don’t worry, the epic exhibition will go to MoMA in October. 

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