This autumn Tate Liverpool presents one of the most iconic works ever made by Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954), The Snail 1953. On display for the first time in the gallery’s history, Tate Liverpool is the first and only UK venue outside London to exhibit this masterpiece.
At almost three metres square, The Snail is one of Matisse’s largest and most significant paper cut-out works. Made by cutting and tearing shapes from paper hand painted by his assistants in a range of bright colours, Matisse began experimenting with this cut-out method in the late 1930s, adopting it wholeheartedly by the late 1940s when ill health prevented him from painting.
Liverpool is one of only four cities in recent years to exhibit The Snail, after London, New York and Amsterdam, where it travelled throughout 2014/15 on a never-to-be-repeated tour. Tate Liverpool’s display offers a unique opportunity for the public to experience this pivotal late work in the context of a range of works from throughout Matisse’s long career. Shown alongside The Snail will be further Matisse works from the Tate collection that span the genres of portraiture, landscape and still life, encompassing painting, sculpture and works on paper. Displaying works from 1899 onwards, Matisse in Focus will represent more than 50 years of practice by this giant of modern art, with The Snail, made the year before the artist’s death, embodying the final chapter in his extensive career. Exhibited in Tate Liverpool’s Wolfson Gallery, Matisse in Focus offers visitors a vivid and concentrated opportunity to surround themselves with the work of Henri Matisse.
Matisse in Focus is programmed in parallel with An Imagined Museum: works from the Centre Pompidou, Tate and MMK collections to form Tate Liverpool’s autumn/winter season. Entitled Works to Know by Heart this season encourages visitors to re-consider their relationship with the artworks on display, proposing questions around this connection and exploring what the works mean to them.
Matisse in Focus is the first in a series of Tate collection displays dedicated to a significant modern and contemporary artist. Next in the series will be Emin in Focus featuring Tracey Emin’s (b. 1963) My Bed 1998, one of Britain's most celebrated works of contemporary art. Exhibited alongside My Bed will be additional works by the artist from Tate’s collection, offering the first dedicated focus of her work ever staged in the north of England.
Matisse in Focus is curated by Stephanie Straine, Assistant Curator, Tate Liverpool.