Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse

French Painter, Draftsman, and Collagist

Born: December 31, 1869 - Le Cateau-Cambresis, Picardy, France
Died: November 3, 1954 - Nice, France
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What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject-matter, an art which could be for every mental worker, for the businessman as well as the man of letters, for example, a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.
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Exactitude is not truth.
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Do you find perfect correspondence between the nature of the drawing and the nature of the painting? In my opinion, they seem totally different from each other, absolutely contradictory. One, the drawing, depends on linear or sculptural plasticity, and the other, the painting, depends on colored plasticity.
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What interests me most is neither still life or landscape, but the human figure. It is that which best permits me to express my so-to-speak religious awe towards life.
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That paper cut-out, the kind of volute acanthus that you see on the wall up there, is a stylized snail. First of all, I drew the snail from nature, holding it between two fingers; drew and drew. I became aware of an unfolding. I formed in my mind a purified sign for a shell. Then I took the scissors.
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An artist must possess Nature. He must identify himself with her rhythm, by efforts that will prepare the mastery which will later enable him to express himself in his own language.
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Summary of Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse is widely regarded as the greatest colorist of the 20th century and as a rival to Pablo Picasso in the importance of his innovations. He emerged as a Post-Impressionist, and first achieved prominence as the leader of the French movement Fauvism. Although interested in Cubism, he rejected it, and instead sought to use color as the foundation for expressive, decorative, and often monumental paintings. As he once controversially wrote, he sought to create an art that would be "a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair." Still life and the nude remained favorite subjects throughout his career; North Africa was also an important inspiration, and, towards the end of his life, he made an important contribution to collage with a series of works using cut-out shapes of color. He is also highly regarded as a sculptor.

Accomplishments

Biography of Henri Matisse

Detail of <i>La danse (I)</i> (1909) by Henri Matisse

Matisse meticulously experimented with art, trying and retrying ideas saying: "I have always tried to hide my efforts and wished my works to have a light joyousness of springtime which never lets anyone suspect the labors it has cost me."

Important Art by Henri Matisse

Luxe, Calme, et Volupte (1904-05)

Luxe, Calme, et Volupte (1904-05)

The title of this painting is taken from the refrain of Charles Baudelaire's poem, Invitation to a Voyage (1857), in which a man invites his lover to travel with him to paradise. The landscape is likely based on the view from Paul Signac's house in Saint-Tropez, where Matisse was vacationing. Most of the women are nude (in the manner of a traditional classical idyll), but one woman - thought to represent the painter's wife - wears contemporary dress. This is Matisse's only major painting in the Neo-Impressionist mode, and its technique was inspired by the Pointillism of Paul Signac and Georges Seurat. He differs from the approach of those painters, however, in the way in which he outlines figures to give them emphasis.

The Woman with a Hat (1905)

The Woman with a Hat (1905)

Matisse attacked conventional portraiture with this image of his wife. Amelie's pose and dress are typical for the day, but Matisse roughly applied brilliant color across her face, hat, dress, and even the background. This shocked his contemporaries when he sent the picture to the 1905 Salon d'Automne. Leo Stein called it, "the nastiest smear of paint I had ever seen," yet he and Gertrude bought it for the importance they knew it would have to modern painting.

Joy of Life (Le Bonheur de Vivre) (1905-06)

Joy of Life (Le Bonheur de Vivre) (1905-06)

During his Fauve years Matisse often painted landscapes in the south of France during the summer and worked up ideas developed there into larger compositions upon his return to Paris. Joy of Live, the second of his important imaginary compositions, is typical of these. He used a landscape he had painted in Collioure to provide the setting for the idyll, but it is also influenced by ideas drawn from Watteau, Poussin, Japanese woodcuts, Persian miniatures, and 19th-century Orientalist images of harems. The scene is made up of independent motifs arranged to form a complete composition. The massive painting and its shocking colors received mixed reviews at the Salon des Indépendants. Critics noted its new style -- broad fields of color and linear figures, a clear rejection of Paul Signac's celebrated Pointillism.

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Henri Matisse
Influenced by Artist
Open Influences

Useful Resources on Henri Matisse

Content compiled and written by Julia Brucker

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

"Henri Matisse Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Julia Brucker
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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First published on 21 Oct 2011. Updated and modified regularly
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