Vintage Film: Watch Henri Matisse Sketch and Make His Famous Cut-Outs (1946)

In April of 1946, a cam­era crew record­ed the scene as the great French artist Hen­ri Matisse sat down at his easel to make a char­coal sketch of his grand­son, Ger­ard, at his his home and stu­dio in Nice. The brief clip above is from a 26-minute film by François Cam­paux which was com­mis­sioned by the French Depart­ment of Cul­tur­al Rela­tions. Alas, we’ve been unable to find the entire film online, but you can watch a 15-minute Ger­man ver­sion on YouTube, or you can vis­it a Web page at the Art Insti­tute of Chica­go for a group of high­er qual­i­ty silent excerpts from the film, accom­pa­nied by explana­to­ry cap­tions. In the clip above, we hear Matisse speak­ing in French. Here is a trans­la­tion:

Me, I believe that paint­ing and draw­ing are the same thing. Draw­ing is a paint­ing done in a sim­pler way [or with “limited/reduced resources”]. On a white sur­face, a sheet of paper, with a plume [or “pen”] and some ink, one cre­ates a cer­tain con­trast with vol­umes; one can change the qual­i­ty of the paper giv­en sup­ple sur­faces, light [or clear] sur­faces, hard sur­faces with­out always adding shad­ow or light. For me, draw­ing is a paint­ing with lim­it­ed means/resources.

For anoth­er glimpse of Matisse at work, look below for a rare col­or clip (from an unknown source) of the artist at work cre­at­ing one of his dis­tinc­tive paper cut-outs.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Picas­so Paint­ing on Glass

Aston­ish­ing Film of Arthrit­ic Impres­sion­ist Painter Pierre August Renoir

Rare Film: Claude Mon­et at Work in His Famous Gar­den at Giverny, 1915

Wass­i­ly Kandin­sky Caught in the Act of Cre­ation, 1926

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.