Henri MATISSE 1869 - 1954
BiographyHenri Matisse was a French painter, draughtsman, sculptor, printmaker, designer and writer. He came to art comparatively late in life and made his reputation as the principal protagonist of Fauvism, the first avant-garde art movement at the turn of the 20th century
Matisse went on to develop a monumental decorative art, which was innovative both in its treatment of the human figure and in the constructive and expressive role which Matisse accorded to colour. His long career culminated in a highly original series of works made of paper cut-outs & collage, which confirmed his reputation, with Picasso, as one of the major artists of the 20th century.
He and Pablo PICASSO are generally regarded as the two greatest artists of the 20th century (Langton)
Matisse, noble and serious by nature, demonstrated an almost ruthless dedication to work and progressive development
Matisse was born at Le Cateau in northern France, he was originally a student of law at Paris but enrolled at the Académie Julian in 1891 under William-Adolphe Bouguereau and the École des Beaux-Arts under Gustave Moreau from 1892-6.
He was elected associate of the Société Nationale in 1896 after selling a painting to the nation from among the four he exhibited at the Salon du Champ de Mars, Paris
He became influenced in the use of tone and colour by Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, as well as the encountering the Impressionists and visited London on Camille Pissaro’s advice to look at the works of JMW Turner, leading him to adopt a brighter palette. He began to experiment with colour and he began to free colour from associations or description
Paul Signac bought his Luxe, calme et volupté (now at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris) from the 1905 Salon des Indépendants. At the Salon d'Automne of that year, he and his friend Andre Derain made a sensational impact and were thereafter called Fauves, or the Wild Beasts
Gertrude, Michael and Leo Stein began to collect his artworks, Leo buying Le Bonheur de from the 1906 Indépendants
The quest for integrity of form when applying colour at its most intense led to the abandonment of conventional spatial devices, yet, while achieving great expressive power, he turned away from Expressionism, seeking ‘balance, purity and moderation’. His stated aim, to bring comfort and express joy, was realized in pure colour and increasingly abstract compositions, a powerful mode of decorative painting
In his sculpture, printmaking, illustration, and drawing, Matisse invented and demonstrated new, influential forms
La Danse and La Musique (1909–10; St Petersburg, Hermitage) were carried out for S. I. Shchukin, a Moscow merchant, who, like his compatriot I. A. Morosov, became an important patron. (In 1923 nearly 50 of Matisse's works from their collections were exhibited in Moscow
From 1916 he began to winter in Nice and after 1922 divided his year between that city and Paris. For Diaghilev in 1920 he designed Le Chant du rossignol. For the Barnes Foundation he created the great murals La Danse between 1931 and 1933. Odalisques, models-in-interiors, fruit, plants, and flowers were chosen subjects throughout the 1930s and in 1938 he produced the first gouache découpée
During the Second World War he moved to Bordeaux and St Jean-de-Luz before settling in Nice. Two operations for serious illnesses were needed in 1941; illness became intrusive and he discovered ways of working in bed
A retrospective of his work was held at Paris in the Salon d'Automne of 1945 and 1947 saw him created Commander of the Legion of Honour. He published his Jazz and began to design the wall paintings and stained glass for the Rosary chapel at Vence (realized 1949–51) and big gouaches découpées, thus, at 80, producing the last great flowering of his art, the collaged decorations
Langton, John. "Matisse, Henri." The Oxford Companion to Western Art. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press, accessed October 3, 2013, http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/opr/t118/e1692.
Chilvers, Ian. "Oxford Dictionary of Art & Artists." Oxford University Press, New York. 2009.