Jazz: The Cowboy (Le Cowboy)

This powerfully energetic composition was made for ‘Jazz’ written and illustrated by Matisse in 1947. This is an example of Matisse’s later paper cutting technique that he invented while bedridden after a bout of intestinal cancer in 1941. Matisse described the process as a form of sculpture, saying ‘Cutting into color reminds me of the sculptor’s direct carving.’ This particular composition is completely abstract as the viewer is left to decipher the meaning of the anamorphic black forms set against the vertical swaths of blue, yellow, white, and green. The forms are tenuously connected by a strip of black, possibly representing a rope, a typical attribute of a cowboy.

Original Medium: Hand-applied stencil

Original Size:

Date: 1947

Location: Baltimore Museum of Art