During her visits with the bedridden Matisse throughout the 1940s, Gilot observed him creating his famed cut outs using cut and pasted paper. In 1947, Matisse published the groundbreaking artist’s book Jazz, the illustrations for which were created using pochoir from these original cut-out maquettes (see fig. 1). Matisse's distinctive visual vocabulary continued to influence Gilot throughout her career, as is clearly evidenced in the present work painted almost thirty years later.
This animated composition is as analogous to the daring of the acrobats as it is to that of the artist. The clapping hands encircling the perimeter allude to the enthusiasm of the public encouraging the death-defying high wire act of the acrobats. Yet the composition holds their precarious success and security of mid-air contact in anxious suspension. Vibrant reds and blues sharply contrast with orange, black and white as Gilot reinforces the element of danger through her arrangement of complementary colors.
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