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Artists Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse Photo

Henri Matisse

French Painter, Draftsman, and Collagist

Movements and Styles: Fauvism, Neo-Impressionism, Post-Impressionism

Born: December 31, 1869 - Le Cateau-Cambresis, Picardy, France

Died: November 3, 1954 - Nice, France

Henri Matisse Timeline

Quotes

"Exactitude is not truth."
Henri Matisse
"Do you find perfect correspondence between the nature of the drawing and the nature of the painting? In my opinion, they seem totally different from each other, absolutely contradictory. One, the drawing, depends on linear or sculptural plasticity, and the other, the painting, depends on colored plasticity."
Henri Matisse
"What interests me most is neither still life or landscape, but the human figure. It is that which best permits me to express my so-to-speak religious awe towards life."
Henri Matisse
"That paper cut-out, the kind of volute acanthus that you see on the wall up there, is a stylized snail. First of all, I drew the snail from nature, holding it between two fingers; drew and drew. I became aware of an unfolding. I formed in my mind a purified sign for a shell. Then I took the scissors."
Henri Matisse
"An artist must possess Nature. He must identify himself with her rhythm, by efforts that will prepare the mastery which will later enable him to express himself in his own language."
Henri Matisse
"I have always tried to hide my efforts and wished my works to have a light joyousness of springtime which never lets anyone suspect the labors it has cost me."
Henri Matisse

"What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject-matter, an art which could be for every mental worker, for the businessman as well as the man of letters, for example, a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue."

Henri Matisse Signature

Synopsis

Henri Matisse is widely regarded as the greatest colorist of the 20th century and as a rival to Pablo Picasso in the importance of his innovations. He emerged as a Post-Impressionist, and first achieved prominence as the leader of the French movement Fauvism. Although interested in Cubism, he rejected it, and instead sought to use color as the foundation for expressive, decorative, and often monumental paintings. As he once controversially wrote, he sought to create an art that would be "a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair." Still life and the nude remained favorite subjects throughout his career; North Africa was also an important inspiration, and, towards the end of his life, he made an important contribution to collage with a series of works using cut-out shapes of color. He is also highly regarded as a sculptor.

Key Ideas

Matisse used pure colors and the white of exposed canvas to create a light-filled atmosphere in his Fauve paintings. Rather than using modeling or shading to lend volume and structure to his pictures, Matisse used contrasting areas of pure, unmodulated color. These ideas continued to be important to him throughout his career.
His art was important in endorsing the value of decoration in modern art. However, although he is popularly regarded as a painter devoted to pleasure and contentment, his use of color and pattern is often deliberately disorientating and unsettling.
Matisse was heavily influenced by art from other cultures. Having seen several exhibitions of Asian art, and having traveled to North Africa, he incorporated some of the decorative qualities of Islamic art, the angularity of African sculpture, and the flatness of Japanese prints into his own style.
Matisse once declared that he wanted his art to be one "of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter," and this aspiration was an important influence on some, such as Clement Greenberg, who looked to art to provide shelter from the disorientation of the modern world.
The human figure was central to Matisse's work both in sculpture and painting. Its importance for his Fauvist work reflects his feeling that the subject had been neglected in Impressionism, and it continued to be important to him. At times he fragmented the figure harshly, at other times he treated it almost as a curvilinear, decorative element. Some of his work reflects the mood and personality of his models, but more often he used them merely as vehicles for his own feelings, reducing them to ciphers in his monumental designs.

Biography

Henri Matisse Photo

Childhood

Henri-Emile-Benoit Matisse was born to middle-class parents Emile-Hippolyte-Henri Matisse, a grain and hardware merchant, and Anna Heloise Gerard. He grew up in Bohain-en-Vermandois and went to school at the College de Saint Quentin, before moving to Paris to study law. In 1889, he returned to Saint-Quentin as a law clerk, though he found the job tedious and complained of anxiety. Later that year he contracted appendicitis and spent several months at home recovering. During that time, at the age of 20, he discovered the welcome isolation and freedom of painting.

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Henri Matisse Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Henri Matisse
Interactive chart with Henri Matisse's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Paul CézannePaul Cézanne
Paul GauguinPaul Gauguin
Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso

Personal Contacts

Henri BergsonHenri Bergson
Albert MarquetAlbert Marquet
Leo SteinLeo Stein

Movements

ImpressionismImpressionism
Post-ImpressionismPost-Impressionism
CubismCubism

Influences on Artist
Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse
Years Worked: 1889 - 1954
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Raoul DufyRaoul Dufy
Pablo PicassoPablo Picasso
Arthur DoveArthur Dove
Robert MotherwellRobert Motherwell
Richard DiebenkornRichard Diebenkorn

Personal Contacts

Sergei ShchukinSergei Shchukin
Clement GreenbergClement Greenberg
Alfred H. Barr, Jr.Alfred H. Barr, Jr.

Movements

FauvismFauvism
CubismCubism
ExpressionismExpressionism
Abstract ExpressionismAbstract Expressionism

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Content compiled and written by Julia Brucker

Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Julia Brucker
Edited and published by The Art Story Contributors
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