MATISSE
Poésies
MALLARMÉ

Albert Skira, Paris, 1932
The outstanding book containing original graphics by Matisse is Poésies, 145 copies, some with additional suites. The etchings are delicate line illustrations, drawn with only a few strokes by the master. The story is told that Matisse sat in a rowboat for three days to capture the exact image of a swan. It must be seen to be truly appreciated and is one of the images displayed on this website. Of course, the most famous Modern Illustrated Book by Matisse, known by many, is Jazz. Yet Jazz does not fall into the category of original prints - etchings, woodcuts, lithographs - because it was reproduced in pochoir. Matisse was blind by the time of its creation, using large color paper cutouts. Poésies remains the outstanding graphic work in book form by the artist. Other notable Modern Illustrated Books illustrated by Matisse are Pasiphaé by Montherlant with linoleumcuts, Visages by Reverdy, Florilége des Amours by Ronsard and more.

Matisse wrote about Poésies: "Etchings with a regular outline, very slender, without shading, which leaves the page almost as white as before the printed impression. The design fills the unmargined page, for the design is not as usual massed toward the center, but radiating over the entire sheet. The rectos carrying the plates are placed opposite the versos bearing the text. The problem was then to balance the two pages, one white, that of the etching and one relatively black, that of the typography.


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