The Daily Gamecock

Columbia Museum of Art opens doors to 2D world

Imagine being able to literally walk through a storybook, page by page, immersing yourself into all the colors, shapes and lines of that world. This fantasy has been made a reality at the Columbia Museum of Art with “Henri Matisse: Jazz & Poetry on Paper.” 

“Rather than flipping through a book, you’re going to actually move through it,” museum curator Catherine Walworth said.

Matisse, the late French artist best known for his use of color and fluidity, has remained a strong influence in today’s creative minds, especially for fashion and interior designers. 

The museum has 81 works by Matisse on display that make up four different books of texts with his own illustrations added in complement. These have come to be known as his art books.

One of Matisse’s most renowned books is his 1947 “Jazz” portfolio. This collection of unfolded sheets divided into separate frames throughout the exhibition features Matisse’s illustrations. The illustrations are made with a hand-stenciling technique known as pochoir and are accompanied by his handwritten thoughts of each piece. The pieces include brightly colored paper cutouts — a technique Matisse called “drawing with scissors.”

According to the museum, “some have noted [that] the chromatic and rhythmic improvisations of text and image ... align Matisse’s book to jazz music.”

The other three books include typed and handwritten poems by Henry de Montherlant, Stéphane Mallarmé and Charles d’Orleans. 

The poems are written in French, so having a background in the French language may create an added element of enjoyment. Some poems have English translations. 

All of the pieces work toward creating a balance, whether it be between light and dark or text and shape. With the exception of "Jazz," most of the pieces feature prints of linoleum engravings made with simple lines.

Near the end of the exhibit, there are interactive art pieces in which viewers can move stencils around to create their own "Jazz" piece or attempt to draw "Jazz" on pieces of paper and hang them up.

The exhibit is on display until Jan. 15, and museum entry is $2.50 for students.