December 31, 2019 marks one hundred and fifty years since the birth of Henri Matisse. The Hermitage celebrates this date with an exhibition of the book "Jazz" - the most famous and most unusual book of the master.
Work on it began in 1943-1944, when, on the initiative of the publisher, Teriada Matisse made a series of decoupage. He cut out silhouette shapes from gouache-dyed paper, and then assembled compositions from them, securing the clippings with pins, buttons or glue. According to Matisse, decoupage allows you to combine color and pattern. The dyed paper gives the color in its purest form, cutting - the outline as such. The "Jazz" summarizes the many years of experience of Matisse - a painter and graphic artist who explores the foundations of the visual language.
Decoupage plots are inspired by "memories of the circus, of folk tales or travels." Initially, Matisse planned to name the book “Circus”, but in the process of work he found a different, musical title, connected not with the theme, but with the nature of the compositions (according to the artist, this is “improvisation ... with a lively and passionate sound”).
In 1946, Matisse wrote a short text, conceived as a kind of accompaniment to the images, and rewrote it with ink, in very large handwriting. For publication, the text was reproduced by facsimile, and decoupage reproduced by Edmond Werel in the technique of poshuara using the same gouache that painted the paper for clipping. The book was released in the fall of 1947 with a circulation of 270 copies; In total, it included twenty color compositions and about seventy pages with text.
"Jazz" played a key role in the late work of Matisse. Decoupage became a favorite technique of the master and in the late 1940s largely replaced painting for him. In the history of livre d’artiste (artist’s books), “Jazz” entered as an ideal example of the genre, an example of how an artist can transform a book, and the book is his own work.
The Hermitage copy of "Jazz" is one of twenty not intended for sale. In April 1948, Matisse presented it to his permanent assistant Lydia Delektorskaya, who was directly involved in the work on the publication. On a blank page at the beginning of the book, he made a pencil portrait of Lydia. In the 1960s, Delektorskaya donated the book to the Hermitage, attaching several sketches of Matisse to it (sketches of decorative vignettes and exercises in the drawing of individual elements of the text). This material makes the Hermitage unique, testifying to the process of working on the Jazz manuscript and its design.