Henri Matisse

“A colorist makes his presence known even in a single charcoal drawing.”

Henri Matisse was born in Le Cateau, France on December 31, 1869. Initially studying and developing a career in law, it was only while recovering from appendicitis in 1890 that Matisse became interested in art. Even though he had intended to use art as manner to quell boredom, Matisse eventually decided to pursue a career in fine art and moved to Paris. Upon arrival, he spent a short time studying at the Academie Julian and then at the Ecole des Beaux Arts with Gustave Moreau, who employed Matisse in his atelier.

Matisse drew influence and inspiration from a range of artists. His 1896 and 1897 participation in the Salon de la Société Nationale exhibited works that boasted association with the styles of Poussin and David. By the end of the century, however, Matisse became introduced to the work of Gaugin, Cézanne and Van Gogh, and this commenced Matisse’s strong interest in the use and power of color. This change in style was gxhibited in his first solo show at Galerie Vollard, Paris. A year later, Marisse exhibited with André Dérain and Maurice de Vlanick, together founding Les Lauves. This name, meaning wild beasts, emerged from the group’s strong interest in using vivid colors and distorted shapes to convey extreme emotions.

From the 1920’s until his death, Matisse share most of his time between the south of France, specifically Nice, and Paris. 1920-1939 was the period that Matisse was his most prolific, interest in all types of art, such as painting, sculpture, lithographs, and etchings. He also worked in design, creating murals (The Barnes Foundation. Merion, Pennsylvania), tapestries, and sets and costumes (Leonide Massme’s ballet, “Rouge et Noir.”) All of these projects were followed by Matisse’s completion of the decorations for the Chapelle du Rosaire in Venice in 1948. That same year he also enjoyed a major retrospective of his work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His own museum, Musée Matisse, was founded in his hometown of La Cateau in 1952. Matisse passed away two years later on November 3, 1954.