MoMA Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs

Drawing With Scissors

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The Museum of Modern Art is widely considered the world’s most influential modern and contemporary art museum, with holdings of almost 200,000 pieces of art spanning the last 150 years.

MoMA’s conservation of the monumental cut-out The Swimming Pool led to the exhibition Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs, the largest and most extensive presentation of the cut-outs ever mounted. It reveals the artistic, conservation, and curatorial aspects of this innovative technique, which Matisse described as “drawing with scissors.” We created the website to complement the museum exhibition and provide deeper storytelling of the fantastically creative late period of Matisse’s life and career.

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Meticulously Creative

Matisse developed his own techniques and process for the cut-outs as an evolution of his art over time. We designed the website to feature approximately 100 cutouts and help users understand the creative vision and how it became real, including what a cut-out is, the steps required to create one, and Matisse’s artistic vision that led him from painting to inventing his own format. To bring to life each stage of the making process, We created animated illustrations that showed painting the paper, making the desired form by hand, pinning to the walls of the studio, tracing, and mounting to retain the liveliness of the art.

The archival photographs of Matisse’s studio were a revelation of the secret process and sense of scale of the original cut-outs. We designed the “In the Studio” section to chronologically move users through time and see the three studios where Matisse created cut-outs, where users could use sliders to see how the walls of the studio were used as the canvas, and how the art evolved over time.

The website’s responsive interface is designed for viewing the artwork and archival photography at the largest possible size, so it could be a companion for people who wanted in-depth information before, during, or after the exhibition visit.