It’s billed as a five-star, must-see, once-in-a-lifetime experience. And tickets for the exhibition of Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs at Tate Modern are already selling fast. Advance booking is recommended, and the Tate website warns anyone rash enough to turn up without a ticket that they can expect a lengthy queue for entry.
For those who can’t make the journey to London, there is the compensation of the film of the exhibition “coming to a cinema near you” on 3 June, now part of the standard marketing of a blockbuster exhibition.
Critics’ response to the exhibition has been almost unanimously positive. The display been described as sensitive and serious: no small achievement in curating art that is superficially so decorative and apparently so familiar.
However well we thought we knew Matisse’s joyous graphic images from reproductions in print and online, it turns out there is no substitute for seeing the delicate layers and precise colours of the gouaches découpés. That is, if you don’t mind edging your way in front of each artwork and then craning your neck to see from behind the row of heads that inevitably form a barrier between you and the object of the exhibition.