Henri Matisse was a french painter, draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor. He was also the co-founder of the Fauvism art style, and one of the most influential painters of the 20th century.
Fauvism is a way of painting which is very expressive, and uses non-realistic color schemes to depict natural scenes. This movement, although it didn’t last long, made a huge impact on future artists, like the German Expressionists.
Henri Matisse was born on 31 December 1869 in Le Cateau-Cambresis, Northern France, in a grain merchant‘s family.
His way to the art world wasn‘t straight considering a fact that he didn‘t paint as a child or as a teenager.
Moreover, Matisse studied Law in Paris and after that, he returned to his hometown to practice as a court administrator. During the work there, suddenly he got appendicitis.
The sickness led to that he needed to spend a lot of time at home in bed, so his mom brought him painting tools, to keep her son busy.
Probably nobody could have expected that this innocent hobby step by step will grow into a huge passion, that totally changes Henri’s life.
In later years, when he will be an experienced artist, he will describe the finding of art as “a kind of paradise”, even his decision to become a professional artist, will be a total shock to his parents.
Early years in art
In 1891 Matisse returned to Paris to study art at the Academie Julian. At the beginning of his professional career as an artist, he used to paint still lifes, landscapes or copy other painter works.
He was inspired by such painters as Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin, Edouard Manet or Japanese art.
At the beginning of his career, he mostly used a darker earth-colored palette of colors, but it totally changed after he was introduced to Vincent Van Gogh‘s works.
It impacted to use way more vivid colors in his works and that led it to look them more alive and expressive. Henri learned a lot from Australian painter John Russel, who taught him the main color theory.
Between 1898 and 1901 he tried a Divisionist technique, which was popular among neo-Impressionists. After a couple of years, Matisse wanter to try something new in art, so he started to work with clay and create sculptures.
Henri Matisse‘s name was written in art history not only because of his works in general but because of his new ideas creating art.
Together with french painter Andre Derain he created a new art style of Modern art and called it Fauvism.
Even the movement lasted only a few years between 1904 and 1908 and attained critique‘s attention of its too much usage of colors, it helped for Matisse to develop his style and left paintings such as Woman with a Hat, 1905, which is one of the traits that described him as an artist.
Around 1906, Henri Matisse met Cubism pioneer Pablo Picasso. Both artists became close friends for many years and also shared their ideas and perspectives on art.
The main difference between these two painters was that Matisse enjoyed painting from nature and Picasso in his works reflected mostly his imagination.
Henri continued his work by creating various landscapes, portraits and still life, but now he used techniques that prevailed in Cubism. These would include more vivid lines, and things with distinctly clear edges.
According to Françoise Gilot, who was a partner of Picasso and a mother of his two children, Henri liked to see things from close and even touch it and feel their surfaces, while painting them, for example, alive doves, which he adore to paint.
It helped him to reflect shapes and forms way better in his paintings. Common topics in his works were music and dance – one of the most well-known paintings is Dance I created in 1909-1910.
In 1917, Matisse moved to Nice in France and after several years of painting, he achieved critical acclaim as a promoter of the classical tradition in French painting.
“Painting with scissors“
In the last years of his life, Henri Matisse was sitting in a wheelchair and he couldn‘t keep painting as he uses to.
Instead of that, he found a new way to express his creativity. He took huge scissors and started to cut various things from a paper by creating various compositions and called it “painting with scissors“.
By using this unique technique, he created an art book called “Jazz“, which combined color prints and Matisse‘s handwritten notes with his thoughts during the creating process.
This example shows, that his love for art was alive till the last days he lived and despite circumstances, an artistic person can find ways to express himself.
Further reading from our site: