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Paper, Collage and Cardboard Sculpture – Picasso and Matisse

Todd Powelson
Picasso "Guitar" 1924

It is known that there was something of a rivalry between Picasso and Matisse. I think they considered each other friends, and would visit each other when able, they’d even exchange paintings from time to time. But each success one might have had inspired the other to experiment a little more and push his artwork a little further.

Picasso "Still Life with Chair Caning" 1912

Well, I am not really going to go too much into their rivalry, but am going to write about something they shared and helped develop. Specifically collage, paper sculpture, and paper cutouts. I have no real idea why, but I have been thinking a whole lot about paper in art. Using it as a medium, I mean. And not just the works by Picasso and Matisse, but other artists, although I have been pouring over examples of their work a lot lately too.

Picasso "Guitar" 1914

I spend a lot of time looking at the work of Picasso. I don’t know how well known it is, but Picasso and Braque actually came up with the word collage and used paper and glue a whole lot in their work. As a matter of fact, Picasso’s work “Still Life with Caning Chair” is sometimes credited as being the first example of collage being used in fine art. He would often paste newspaper or magazine pages into his paintings and compositions. Picasso went on to create 3D sculptures out of cardboard and paper and household materials. A couple of good example of this are the images I’ve included here of guitars. Unfortunately, there aren’t many more good examples of his cardboard sculpture left because not many pieces survived.

Matisse "Zulma" 1950

Then there are the paper cut-outs by Matisse. Later in his life Matisse had some pretty severe health problems that forced him to give up painting, but not creating. He began to cut forms out of paper, and I am just blown away by their simplicity and beauty. Take for instance, Blue Nude II.. The white around the blue creating this graceful form, the blue pressing against the white and creating amazing shape. To me, this is perfect composition. I love negative space and color!

Other paper artists I’ve enjoyed recently include Jen Stark, Kako Ueda, Peter Callesen, Brian Dettmer, and Elsa Mora… to name just a few.

Matisse "Blue Nude II" 1952
Todd Powelson
Todd Powelson works as a Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and Visual Artist.

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