In the years preceding his death in 1954 and when ill health prevented him from painting, Matisse created his iconic and innovative, bold gouache paper cut-outs, many of which were on show at the Tate Modern earlier this year.
In 1953-54 he worked with renowned lithographer Fernand Mourlot and the art publisher Tériade to reinterpret these works as lithographs. Matisse had already worked many times with Tériade, including on the famous Jazz Portfolio in 1947. His lithographs were frequently included in Verve magazine, Tériade’s quarterly review of arts and letters. Fernand Mourlot worked with many of the great artists of the period, including Marc Chagall, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso and Joan Miró.
Matisse oversaw the first proofs for the publication in 1954, including the cover design, however he died before the magazine could be published. Consequently, this special edition of Verve – published in 1958 – became a tribute to Matisse’s final years and was titled ‘Dernières Oeuvres de Matisse 1950-54’ (Last works of Matisse). The publication featured 40 original lithographs based on his final cut-outs. They include some of his most famous works such as the Blue Nudes, The Snail and The Sheaf, as well as lesser known designs including maquettes for stained glass windows and ceramic commissions.