Paper Cut-outs with Henri Matisse
Today we are learning about Henri Matisse. Matisse was a French artist who lived from the end of the 19th century through the mid 20th century. While he is very well known for his paintings and sculpting, you may not know that toward the end of his life he made art using paper cut-outs. He called it “drawing with scissors”, and it I think it’s a style of art that is so approachable by anyone!
First we watched this informative video about the cut-out period of Matisse’s work. I showed my boys some of Matisse’s cut-out collages. I made sure to point out that Matisse used both geometric shapes (like circles and squares), and organic shapes (which imitate things in nature, such as leaves). And since our project is going to use both positive and negatives space, I explained those terms and we found examples of them in his art. In case you are wondering, positive space is the shape that you cut out from a piece of paper (or fabric or whatever), and negatives space is the hole that is left behind.
I decided to have the kids make collages that would use the shapes we had talked about as well as positive and negatives space. To do this project, first, choose two contrasting colors. Cut the construction paper into nine inch squares. Then choose one color to be the background, and one color to cut shapes out of.
Take the paper you have chosen to cut, and fold it in half both vertically and horizontally, making a smaller square. Draw four shapes on the paper, one coming off each edge. They shapes should all be different – keeping in mind the different kinds of shapes Matisse used in his work. Cut out the shapes you drew and save all the pieces.
Next, unfold the paper and label the squares 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Cut them apart, following your fold lines.
Lay squares 1 and 3 on your background paper, diagonal from each other. Glue them down.
Lay down squares 2 and 4, and carefully place the cutouts inside each hole. Carefully glue them in place, making sure to stick them only to the background paper and not the surrounding paper of the same color. After all four shapes in the square are glued, remove the surrounding paper (in the example it’s purple), leaving just the shapes.
Now my kids have their very own paper cut-outs to remind them of Matisse, and that art doesn’t have to be a picture of something specific in order to be beautiful.
Do you have a favorite artist?