Jazz - Jazz

Artist’s Name
Author’s Name
Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
1947, Paris
Printed in one volume, size 42,5 x 32,5 cm.
Manuscript of Henri Matisse
20 plates printed with the ‘pochoir’ technique, according to the collages and the decoupages of Henri Matisse
Printed on ‘vélin d’ Arches’ paper:
  • 250 copies, numbered 1-250
  • 20 copies, off the market, numbered I-XX
  • 100 additional albums were printed, which contain the 20 plates printed on ‘vélin d’ Arches’ paper
Tériade was so impressed by the great capabilities of the gouaches découpées technique that he suggested to the French artist, Henri Matisse, who was the one that had discovered this technique during the final years of his life, that he should create a book that would only use this technique. The artist, full of enthusiasm and inspiration, created twenty pictures, from 1943 to 1944, that were accompanied by a relevant manuscript, which he wrote by himself in 1946. The result was the creation of Jazz, a book that is undoubtedly the most important of anything that he had ever created until then. The images of Jazz are a combination of water-coloured papers, which were coloured, cut and stuck together by the artist himself in such a way that the result of the figures he had created, expressed him. This album, “of coloured and rhythmical self-drawings, with vivid and violent tones”, makes up a miniature version of this original technique. This technique allowed Matisse to enter the beautiful world of colour, taking advantage of clear colours and light, which are the main means of expression in his work. This book was considered to be a turning point in his career and it gave a new dimension to modern art.

The revolutionary gouaches découpées technique gave Matisse the possibility to combine colour and drawing with one move. As he once said: “In this occasion, painting and drawing become one thing. I chose the size of the coloured surface I want and I adjust it to the impression I have for the drawing, just as the sculptor shapes clay, changing the initial ball of clay and stretching it according to his feelings. ‘Drawing’ with scissors and ‘cutting’ the colour reminds me of the chiseling of the sculptor. This book was materialized according to this spirit.” In this way, Matisse and his scissors bring figures and shapes to life, which make a work based on the contradiction of his vibrant colours. Thus, he indicates depth and succeeds in creating unique clarity and perfect economy of the means used in painting. Based on particular rules, Matisse takes away anything that he considers excessive; resulting in a meaningful form, which completely represents his inner vision and his personal feelings.

Although the artist’s book was inspired by his memories from the circus, folk-tales and his travels, he chose the title Jazz. The reason was that he created his collage based on a rhythm and a dynamic similar to that of a jazz band. The combination of differently coloured surfaces creates a kind of controlled pattern of tones that brings to life a vivid harmony of colours; coordination similar to that of a musical composition. In order to support and harmonically surround his creations, Matisse wrote his own text with big letters that cover the whole page. Although he himself declared that his text has a rather decorative role, something like a ‘musical background’, the reader finds out that the content is meaningful and very poetic. The text is written using a personal style that is perfectly harmonised with the content, which contains the personal thoughts of the artist and the intellect, Henri Matisse, who philosophises on life and art.