La Gerbe, one of Henri Matisse's latest works (1953).
Paper Cuts-Outs (gouaches découpés)
In 1941 Henri Matisse was diagnosed with cancer and, following surgery, he started using a wheelchair. Before undergoing a risky operation in Lyon, he wrote an anxious letter to his son, Pierre, insisting, "I love my family, truly, dearly and profoundly." He left another letter, to be delivered in the event of his death, making peace with Amélie.
However, Matisse's extraordinary creativity was not be dampened for long. “Une seconde vie”, a second life, was what he called the last fourteen years of his life.
Following an operation. he found renewed and unexpected energies and the beautiful Russian-born assistant, Lydia Delectorskaya, to keep him company.
Vast in scale (though not always in size), lush and rigorous in color, his cut-outs are among the most admired and influential works of Matisse's entire career. They belong with the grandest affirmations of the élan vital in Western art.