JAZZ - The Opus Magnus of Henri Matisse

In 1946 while living in the South of France, Francoise Gilot met Henri Matisse for the first time in his house in Vence called "Le Reve" (The Dream). Matisse was Francois' "favorite among the moderns" and following their meeting she emulated his work in her own art for the entire year. This year was a turning point in Matisse' graphic works producing illustrations for three (now very famous) books and perhaps the most important of all creating an innovative book of cutouts titled JAZZ. Matisse produced it at the urging and support of his friend and publisher E. Teriade.

Confined to bed following major life saving surgery for intestinal cancer in 1941, Matisse now unable to stand at the easel developed a novel method of artistic creation using a simple pair of scissors to create innovative collaged shapes . Known as the "Cut Out" this technique would define his final period of artistic creation.

Gilot explained that because it was difficult to find good typeface at the time and because Matisse had such "legible and handsome" handwriting the idea to accompany his cutouts with his own thoughts in his "beautiful handwriting" was born. Comprised of 20 cut out images published in an edition of only 250, Gilot also clarified that rather than using traditional etching or lithography, Matisse made elaborate stencils for his craftsmen to print on paper using the very same tempera colors that he used for his cutouts (thus reproducing identical colors). A massive undertaking by the craftsmen that was never repeated with such scale. Not surprising, the books were immediately snapped up, the majority going to other artists, museums and institutions all around the world (consequently, are almost impossible to acquire today). 

JAZZ was the only book that Matisse wrote and illustrated using his innovative Cut Outs and his own thoughts with his own handwriting. It is arguably the most famous and loved single compilation of his fine art color lithography anywhere to be found.

Fortunately for print collectors, perfect color lithographs of all 20 original images and Matisse' "beautiful handwriting" was undertaken in Germany in 1983 in sheet sizes of 15 x 11.75 inches (just one inch short of the original sheet size of 16.5 x 13 inches) and available with this collection. All lithographs come with an accompanying sheet of Matisse' printed handwriting.