The impetus for Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at MoMA was the restoration of The Swimming Pool, (1952) Matisse’s only site specific cut out installation. MoMA acquired the work in 1975, and it hasn’t been on display in more than twenty years.
The story behind The Swimming Pool goes something like this……One summer day in 1952, Matisse decided he wanted to go down to the local swimming pool to watch the divers. Not surprisingly, it being the south of France, he found it too warm, and returned to his home, intent on creating his own swimming pool. The dining room was chosen, and Matisse and his assistants went to work, making history.
The restoration of the work began in 2008. It was an extensive project to return the paper colour to its original balance, and remove and replace the deteriorated burlap on which the paper cuts had been mounted. At times, the burlap was removed strand by strand. The result of all the time, money and care expended is a stunning reclamation of a charming work of art.
Matisse: The Cut-Outs recreates The Swimming Pool in all its dining room-sized glory.