Henri Matisses celebrated stained-glass window, Nuit de Noel and its maquette will be shown together for the first time in the UK in the most comprehensive exhibition of Matisses late works ever held, Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs opens at Tate Modern
on 17 April 2014.
London is the first to host this landmark show before it travels to the Museum of Modern Art in New York from14 October 2014 to17 April 2015. The delicacy of the paper cut-outs is such that it is unlikely that these works will ever be brought together in this way again.
The Christmas window was commissioned by Life magazine in January 1952 for celebrations at Rockefeller Center at the end of that year. Matisse made a maquette of cut-and-pasted paper for the work in which a large star appears in Christmas sky over a landscape of organic shapes.
In March 1952, the finished maquette was given over to the stained-glass craftsman who had made Matisses Chapel windows at Vence, Paul Bony, and four months later the nearly 11ft high window was completed. On 8 December 1952, the window arrived in New York and was displayed in time for Christmas Eve in the reception of the Time-Life Building at Rockefeller Center. On the occasion, Matisse wrote to Alfred H Barr Jr, the Director of Museum Collections at the Museum of Modern Art, that the maquette for a sainted-glass window and the window itself are like a musical score and its performance by an orchestra. In June 1953, Time gave both the window and the maquette to the Museum of Modern Art. Neither the glass nor the maquette have ever been seen in the UK before.
In celebration of this remarkable work, Tate has chosen to feature the cut-out design for the maquette as the image for its 2013 Directors Christmas card.
Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate and the exhibitions co-curator said: Matisse described the maquette for Nuit de Noel as being like a musical score, while the stained glass window was like a symphony orchestra. Nuit de Noel is an astonishing creation celebrating the joy of life by an artist in his eighties.
Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs is curated by Nicholas Cullinan, Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and Nicholas Serota, Director with Flavia Frigeri, Assistant Curator at Tate; and at the Museum of Modern Art, New York by Jodi Hauptman, Curator, Department of Drawings, and Karl Buchberg, Senior Conservator, with Samantha Friedman, Assistant Curator.