Henri Emile Benoit Matisse was born in 1869 in Le Cateau, in the north of France. Matisse studied law in Paris up until 1891, when he suffered appendicitis. It was only during his convalescence that he took to art, and to painting in particular. He took up work as a part-time interior decorator, while taking art classes from Bouguereau at the Académie Julian and then at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, becoming the pupil of Gustave Moreau. His paintings from this period consist mostly of still lifes and interiors, showing his admiration of Chardin. These works were generally considered "unadventurous" but still very competent, the mark of a budding genius (1).

While painting in Brittany, Matisse was introduced to works of the impressionist movement around 1897. From this time on, colour became intensley important to Matisse, taking precedence over the subject matter in his paintings. His first experiments with colour include Portrait of Madame Matisse (1905) and Open Window Collioure (1905).

The sweeping nature of his 1904-1905 paintings and the energy they conveyed led to his initiation and leadership of the brief Fauvist movement. Together with Marquet, Derain, and Vlaminck, Matisse put on a "sensational" exhibition at the Salon d'Automne. (2) This exhibit first introduced the art world to what would soon be called Fauvism, a French word meaning 'Wild Beasts', by Louis Vauxcelles, an unimpressed critic. Fauvism was characterized by flat compositions done in bright colours applied with broad, expressive brush-strokes.

Matisse's aims, however, were different from those of the Fauvists. In his 1908 Notes d'un peintre, he wrote, "I dream of an art of balance, purity and calm, without troubling or depressing themes, that will offer ... a soothing influence." In his initial post-Fauvism period, from 1905 to 1910, Matisse illustrated this dream, literally, in the increasingly simple form and large figures of his paintings, including Luxe, calme et volupté (1905), Joie de vivre (1906), and La Danse (1909). These paintings also introduced Matisse's signature style, areas of bright primary colours and "rhythmic, two-dimensional" subjects (3).

During World War I, Matisse went through a cubism-influenced phase. He produced such works as The Moroccans (1916), Gourds (1916), and Bathers by a River (1917). After the war, Matisse returned to his Fauvist roots, the only artist to do so after the advent of Cubism. He did, however, begin to incorporate previously unused concepts, like modelling and perspective, into his art. The first results of this experiment were in the Odalisque series, during the 1920s. He also did some sculpture, producing Venus in a Shell, I in 1930. From 1949 to 1951, Matisse worked on the decorations in the Dominican Chapelle du Rosaire, in Vence, France. The art in this chapel was a gift of thanksgiving from Matisse to a nun there who had nursed him after two surgical operations in 1941. Matisse himself designed every detail, down to the preists' vestments in the murals. The works of art in this chapel are considered among the greatest of his maturity.

In his final years, Matisse was bed-ridden. Unabled to paint, he turned to another medium for his creative outlet. He began to use bright-coloured paper cut-out shapes to create abstract forms, so bright that his doctor advised him to wear sunglasses. His most famous work in this style is 1953's L'Escargot. Of the cut-outs he worked with, Matisse said, "it allows me to draw in the colour. It is a simplification for me. Instead of drawing the outline and putting the colour inside it--the one modifying the other--I draw straight into the colour." (2) This work of his old age was among the most joyous, not only of his career, but of almost all agéd artists. In 1952, the town of his birth honored Matisse with the Musée Matisse, a museum devoted to his work. Henri Matisse died in 1954.

Collections of his work may be found the Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania, the Hermitage in St Petersburg, the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, and at the two Matisse museums, in Le Cateau and Nice.


Portfolio of Henri Matisse
This is only a small portion of the 158 works Matisse produced in his life. I am adding them as quickly as I can. Images of all of Matisse's works can be found at
http://www.abcgallery.com/M/matisse/matisse.html

    Dinner Table
  • 1897
  • Private Collection
  • Painting

    Blue Pot and Lemon

  • 1897
  • The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • Painting

    Vase of Sunflowers

  • 1898
  • The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • Painting

    Fruit and Coffee-Pot

  • 1899
  • The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • Painting

    Crockery on a Table

  • 1900
  • The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Painting

    Male Model

  • 1900
  • The Museum of Modern Arts, New York, NY, USA
  • Painting

    The Slave

  • 1900-1903
  • Baltimore Museum of Art
  • Sculpture

    La Coiffure

  • 1901
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Painting

    Dishes and Fruit

  • 1901
  • The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • Painting

    The Luxembourg Gardens

  • 1901-2
  • The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Painting

    Studio under the Eaves

  • 1903
  • Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK.
  • Painting

    Luxe, calme et volupté

  • 1904-1905
  • Musée d'Orsay, Paris
  • Painting

    Still Life with Vase, Bottle and Fruit

  • 1905
  • The Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Painting

    Woman With the Hat

  • 1905
  • Unknown Location
  • Painting

    La moulade

  • 1905
  • Private collection.
  • Painting

    Madame Matisse

  • 1905
  • Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Painting

    Joy of Life

  • 1905-1906
  • Barnes Foundation, Merion, Pennsylvania
  • Painting

    Sea at Collioure

  • 1906
  • Barnes Foundation, Lincoln University, Merion, PA
  • Painting

    The Blue Nude

  • 1907
  • Baltimore Museum of Art
  • Painting

    The Dance

  • 1909
  • Museum of Modern Art, New York City
  • Painting

    The Black I-IV

  • 1909-c.1929
  • Tate, London, and elsewhere
  • Sculpture

    Pond at Trivaux

  • 1910
  • Unknown Location
  • Painting

    Nasturtiums with 'The Dance'

  • 1911
  • Pushkin Museum, Moscow
  • Painting

    View of Collioure and the Sea

  • 1911
  • Museum of Modern Art, New York City
  • Painting

    Spanish Still Life: Seville II

  • 1911
  • The Hermitage, St Petersburg
  • Painting

    Young Sailor II

  • 1911
  • Museum of Modern Art, New York City
  • Painting

    View of Notre Dame, Paris, Spring

  • 1914
  • Museum of Modern Art, New York City
  • Painting

    French Window at Collioure

  • 1914
  • Centre Pompidou, Paris
  • Painting

    The Moroccans

  • 1915-1916
  • Museum of Modern Art, New York City
  • Painting

    Gourds

  • 1916
  • Museum of Modern Art, New York City
  • Painting

    Painter and his Model

  • 1916
  • Unknown Location
  • Painting

    Bathers by a River

  • 1916-1917
  • Art Institute of Chicago
  • Painting

    The Rose Marble Table

  • 1917
  • Museum of Modern Art, New York City
  • Painting

    Odalisques series

  • 1920-1925
  • Unknown Location
  • Painting

    Odalisque with Red Trousers

  • 1922
  • Unknown Location
  • Painting

    Pianist and Checker Players

  • 1924
  • Unknown Location
  • Painting

    Venus in a Shell, I

  • 1930
  • Museum of Modern Art, New York City
  • Sculpture

    Pink Nude

  • 1935
  • Baltimore Museum of Art
  • Painting

    Jazz

  • 1947
  • Centre Pompidou, Paris
  • Collage

    Chapelle du Rosaire

  • 1949-1951
  • Vence, France
  • Various Media

    The Necklace

  • 1950
  • Museum of Modern Art, New York City
  • Painting

    L'Escargot

  • 1953
  • Tate, London
  • gouaches découpées

Sources:

Quoted Sources:
  1. www.xrefer.com - Who's Who in the Twentieth Century
  2. www.xrefer.com - Oxford Dictionary of Art
  3. www.biography.com


Other Sources: www.xrefer.com
- The Macmillan Encyclopedia 2001
- The Oxford English Reference Dictionary
- The Thames and Hudson Dictionary of Art and Artists
- Bloomsbury Guide to Art
E2 Node: Fauvism
http://www.abcgallery.com/M/matisse/matisse.html

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