Henri Matisse France, 1869-1954


Henri Matisse (b. 1869, Le Cateau-Cambrésis, France; d. 1954, Nice, France) was a celebrated avant-garde French artist of the twentieth century known for his masterful use of color. A painter, printmaker, and sculptor, Matisse worked with a range of subjects, including nudes, landscapes, portraits, interiors, and abstract compositions. In his early days studying at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Matisse was inspired by Post-Impressionists Paul Cézanne and Vincent Van Gogh. When beginning to define his own distinct style, Matisse turned his attention to Pointillists George Seurat and Paul Signac for their mastery of color. Two trips in 1904 and 1905 to the south of France marked an important turn in the artist’s career towards vivid brushwork and vibrant paints. This new style was coined as ‘Fauvism’ by the art critic Louis Vauxcelles upon seeing the work of Matisse and André Derain shown at the 1905 Salon d’Automne in Paris, which was characterized by a wild and expressive, rather than naturalistic, color palette. Matisse’s fascination with color theory and in particular, complementary colors, eventually led the artist to become increasingly abstract with his painting and sculpture, often emphasizing flat, pictorial planes with bold, simplified forms. Towards the end of his life, Matisse, in declining health and adapting to his new physical limitations, began to work with paper cutouts which aided him in evolving his abstract work into graphic design. Matisse’s work has been collected by nearly every major global arts institution including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg; Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen; Pinakothek Der Moderne, Munich and Musée Matisse, Nice.