Henri Matisse was a painter, graphic artist, designer and sculptor. Along with Picasso, he was the foremost painter of the 1920s, admired for his sensitivity of line and the beauty of his palette. Moving from Impressionism to Neo-Impressionism to Fauvism, Matisse lived through poverty and immense wealth to become a patronised and revered painter of great importance.
His work was joyous, and Matisse was, in his old-age, advised by his doctors to wear dark glasses as the colours in his palette were so bright. In the 1950s, Matisse began creating paintings using paint and paper cut outs. He produced many paintings and designs using this technique. His art has an astonishing force. His celebration of bright colors and light reached its peak in 1917 when he began to spend time on the French Riviera at Nice and Vence.
In 1941 Matisse was diagnosed with cancer and was permanently confined to a wheelchair. As he could paint no loner, he turned to another form of artistic expression. He created paper cut-outs in the same vivid, strong colors and daring compositions known from his paintings. He worked on paper cutout until the day of his death. Pablo Picasso once said about his great friend Matisse "All things considered, there is only Matisse".
"A colorist makes his presence known even in a single charcoal drawing."
"I'lI have always tried to hide my efforts and wished my works to have the light joyousness of springtime, which never lets anyone suspect the labors it has cost me."
The quite, unassuming master!
Location:Barnes Foundation, Lincoln University, Merion, PA, USA
Matisse worked best in the calm atmosphere of his studio. He loved patterns and used them extensively. Even the goldfish in this painting make their own pattern.
Location:The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia.
His studio was a world within the world: a place of equilibrium that, for sixty continuous years, produced images of comfort, refuge, and balanced satisfaction.
Location:The Hermitage, Leningrad.
The red of the walls and tablecloth, with the interweaving blue pattern, is one of Mattise's most unusual color creations, with a history just as fascinating and complex. The canvas began its life as Harmony in Green, and was then transformed to Harmony in Blue. It then was bought by Sergei Shchukin, who honored Matisse's request to work on it one last time; with this masterpiece is the final result.
Location:Musee National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France.
Matisse worked on decoupage in his later years while he was in a wheelchair and couldn't paint anymore. Matisse said that those cut-outs were his best work. This work, gouache on paper cut-out, is now in the Musee National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France.
"Matisse painted very often using black, but not at all as a colour of darkness black was like any other colour for Matisse, something to be used in a play of highlighted contrasts. For Matisse, color never had any symbolic sense. You could never say, you know, "white is purity, black is death, red is blood." Absolutely not." (Yve-Alain Bois)
Location:Barnes Foundation, Merion, PA
What I dream of is an art of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair that provides relaxation from fatigue. (Matisse)
Location:Barnes Foundation, Lincoln University, Merion, PA, USA.
Expression, for me, does not reside in passion burning from a human face or manifested by violent movement. The entire arrangement of my picture is expressive: the place occupied by the figures, the empty spaces around them, the proportions, all that has its share. (Matisse, 1908)
Learning art through great artists and their paintings is fun and exciting. Our friend and resident artist Stefan Mager has kindly given this introduction to the art world.