Perfect Mats

Confined to his bed in the last decade of his life and unable to paint, Henri Matisse found inspiration in the unlikeliest of sources. Across the beige walls of his Montparnasse apartment, he began assembling paper cut-out images of the South Pacific, which he had visited 16 years before. Here starfish bloomed, dolphins danced and seabirds swooped in an imaginary lagoon, eventually finding their perfect expression in the floating fabrics of his late, great silkscreen panels of Oceania, which can be seen at the National Gallery of Australia. "From the first, the enchantments...

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