Nu bleu aux bas verts

  • 1952
  • Gouache on paper, cut and pasted, on vellum paper mounted on canvas
  • 258 x 167 cm

The use of scissors allowed Matisse to “draw straight into colour”, or “cut directly into colour”. With these shapes coloured in gouache, he studied different compositions by freely repositioning his shapes. As of 1943 (the year he made Jazz, an art book published by Tériade in 1947), this technique acquired a particular importance in his work. For Matisse, it resolved the relationship between colour and line – a problem that pervades all his work and theoretical thinking.

Contemporary with the famous Nus Bleus of 1952, Nu bleu aux bas verts was a model for a lithograph published by Tériade in Verve magazine in 1954. It depicts a dancer in three-quarter view. Her legs are green up to the mid-thighs and her forearms are fuchsia. These colours accentuate the figure's dynamism and the sense of weightlessness she gives off. The plant motif on the right completes the composition and suggests through colour and formal connections an equivalence between human and plant.

© Succession H. Matisse