Henri Matisse in the Rush of Colors

Henri Matisse
(1869 – 1954)

On December 31, 1869, Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse, French draughtsman, sculptor and writer artist, known for his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship, was born.

Henri Matisse grew up in a wealthy merchant family in France and began his law studies in Paris in 1887. He started gaining his interest in painting rather late at age 18 and made the decision to become a professional painter quick, to his father’s disappointment. He was soon busy painting numerous still-lifes and landscapes traditionally and was introduced to Impressionism and the back then unknown Vincent van Gogh in the late 1890’s by the artist John Peter Russell, who deeply influenced Matisse and his knowledge concerning colors and various painting methods. A typical paining of this period depicts the ‘Vase of Sunflowers ‘ from 1898.

Henri Matisse’s reputation grew and he became an influential artist of his time. He is also seen as one of the leaders of Fauvism. This painting style focuses on strong colors combined with the realistic elements from the Impressionism era. This movement lasted for only about four years but depict an important period in Matisse’s life who was able to exhibit his painting ‘Woman with a Hat‘ at the Salon d’Automne in Paris. The work faced diverse criticism, but was later sold to the art collectors Gertrude and Leo Stein.

A great impact to Henri Matisse’s career was the younger painter Pablo Picasso, a great friendship evolved between the enthusiastic artists after meeting for the first time at the Paris salon of Gertrude Stein. Even though their paintings differed enormously from each other, they were able to influence each other’s works and paintings like ‘The Dessert: Harmony in Red‘ by Matisse were characteristic for this period.

In the late 1910’s, Matisse left Paris for the French Riviera and created works characteristic for their relaxing mood like ‘Odalisque with Arms Raised‘. Even though his health situation began to worsen, Matisse was still highly active with his paintings and created his famous ‘Blue Nudes‘ series. His last major work was the interior design of the glass windows of the Chapelle du Rosaire de Vence.

Henri Matisse passed away on November 3, 1954.

At yovisto, you may enjoy a discussion by Beth Harris and Steven Zucker about Matisse’s Painting ‘The Red Studio‘.

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