Henri Matisse

Born: 1869 - 1954

Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse was born on December 31st, 1869 at Chateau-Cambresis, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France.
Matisse never intended to become an artist and initially studied law in Paris. Influenced by artists such as Paul Cezanne, Gaugin, Van Gogh and Paul Signac, he is now often regarded as the most important French painter of the 20th century.
Matisse painted in the Fauvist manner, his subjects being primarily women, interiors and still life. His very distinctive style moved away from the popular impressionist movement of that time and embraced a very distictive new style with its flat brilliant colour and fluid line.

The decline of the Fauvist Movement in 1906, of which Matisse was seen to be the leader, did nothing to affect his popularity which has remained constant until his death on November 3rd 1954, and beyond.

In his bed ridden final years Matisse also embarked on another kind of highly original work, using brightly coloured cut-out paper shapes (gouaches decoupees) arranged into purely abstract patterns. The colours he used in his cut-outs were often so strong that his doctor advised him to wear dark glasses.

Matisse personally directed and supervised the first 'pulls' of the coloured lithographs during 1954 in collaboration with the renowned lithographers Mourlot Freres of Paris. Mourlot Freres, founded in 1921 worked with many of the great artists of the 20th century, including Picasso, Vlaminck, Bonnard, Dufy, Miro etc.

Unlike many of his great contemporaries, Matisse did not attempt to express in his work the troubled times through which he lived.'What I dream of' he wrote 'is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or disturbing subject a comforting influence, a mental balm - something like a good armchair in which one rests from physical fatigue.'

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