Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs was the largest exhibit of Matisse’s cut-outs ever mounted. To celebrate this groundbreaking exhibition, MoMA partnered with Hello to create a site that would highlight the brilliant final chapter of Matisse’s illustrious career. By the late 1940s, Matisse turned to cut paper as his primary medium, cutting painted sheets into lively compositions that eventually expanded into large-scale works. The site’s elegant design, subtle animations, and compelling content let viewers learn about Matisse’s cut-outs, his process, his studio, and the man himself. It also delves into MoMA’s multi-year restoration of his iconic, room-specific piece The Swimming Pool. The site is more than a beautiful digital destination—it’s an immersive introduction to Matisse’s radically creative spirit.
CEO/Creative Director - David Lai
Creative Director - Hiro Niwa
Design Director - Chris Wang
Lead Designer - Hajime Himeno
Lead Designer - Gaelyn Jenkins
Director of Front-End Development - Scott Moore
Account Director - Scott Arenstein
Project Lead - Sean Doocy
MoMA’s Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition was a groundbreaking reassessment of this important body of work and Hello crafted a digital destination to celebrate Matisse, his artwork and his legacy.
The largest and most extensive presentation of the cut-outs ever mounted, the exhibition includes approximately 100 cut-outs—borrowed from public and private collections around the globe—along with a selection of related drawings, prints, illustrated books, stained glass, and textiles. The last time New York audiences were treated to an in-depth look at the cut-outs was in 1961.
In the late 1940s, Henri Matisse turned almost exclusively to cut paper as his primary medium, and scissors as his chief implement, introducing a radically new operation that came to be called a cut-out. Matisse would cut painted sheets into forms of varying shapes and sizes, which he then arranged into lively compositions. Initially, these compositions were of modest size but, over time, their scale grew along with Matisse’s ambitions for them, expanding into mural or room-size works. A brilliant final chapter in Matisse’s long career, the cut-outs reflect both a renewed commitment to form and color and an inventiveness directed to the status of the work of art, whether as a unique object, environment, ornament, or a hybrid of all of these.
This exhibition was sparked by an initiative to conserve The Museum of Modern Art’s monumental cut-out The Swimming Pool (1952), a favorite of visitors since its acquisition by MoMA in 1975. The Swimming Pool is the only cut-out composed for a specific room—the artist’s dining room in his apartment in Nice, France. The goals of the multiyear conservation effort have been to bring this magical environment back to its original color balance, height, and spatial configuration. Newly conserved, The Swimming Pool—off view for more than 20 years—returns to MoMA’s galleries as a centerpiece of the exhibition.
With research on two fronts—conservation and curatorial—this exhibition offers a reconsideration of the cut-outs by exploring a host of technical and conceptual issues: the artist’s methods and materials and the role and function of the works in his practice; their environmental aspects; their sculptural and temporal presence as their painted surfaces exhibited texture and materiality, curled off the walls, and shifted in position over time; and their double lives, first as contingent and mutable in the studio and, ultimately, as permanent, a transformation accomplished via mounting and framing. The exhibition also mines the tensions that lurk in all the cut-outs, between finish and process, fine art and decoration, drawing and color.