Henri Matisse approached printmaking with a toolbox of techniques that enabled him to explore the medium to its fullest potential. To create a linocut, an artist carves the design out of a piece of linoleum mounted on a wood block. Matisse was drawn to this particular method because it allowed him to easily create curvilinear and geometric forms. The abbreviated shapes and simplified composition at play in this particular image anticipate his bolder works of the later 1940s and early 1950s, in which he simultaneously represents form and space through even more streamlined, nearly sculptural silhouettes. Additionally, the white lines in this work, which denote areas where Matisse carved into the linoleum, appear as if they have been sliced into black paper—a visual prophesy of processes to come.
Label from Matisse and the Art of Jazz, January 20–July 1, 2018