Matisse Cut-Outs

Henri Matisse was a French artist who was a great painter, but as he got older and older he couldn’t paint anymore.  He was in a wheelchair and felt really restricted, but he still really wanted to create!  He started doing cutouts.  He called it “painting with scissors.”  In the end, he believed those cutouts were his very best work.

Portrait of Henri Matisse. Carl Van Vechten [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Start the lesson by looking at some of Matisse’s cutouts.  You may also want to look at some of his paintings to compare his styles.

A room inside the Matisse Museum. By Georges Jansoone (JoJan) (Own work (own photo)) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Next, gather a variety of colors of paper, some glue, and scissors.  Cut out shapes with three different colors of paper.  Glue them down however you’d like to on a fourth color of paper.  If you use bright, bold, contrasting colors, it will work the best.


You can have it resemble a person, plant, animal, fish, tree, flowers, leaf, shell, or other object if you’d like, but it doesn’t have to.  Any kind of organic or geometric shapes will do just fine.  It doesn’t have to look realistic.  Let the colors and the shapes make the art.  The one above was made by my daughter.  She says painting is easier than painting with scissors!

Discussion Questions:

Have you ever thought of cutting and pasting as great art?
Why do you think Matisse considered this his best?
Which do you like better: his paintings or his cutouts?
How important do you think the use of color is in cutouts?

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