Henri Matisse

HENRI MATISSE--SELF PORTRAIT
HENRI MATISSE--SELF PORTRAIT

Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse had only one purpose in his painting, and that was to make the viewer feel good. His aim was to create paintings that gave people pleasure, that made them feel at home; kind of like the comforter you can't part with, the one that's thinning and frayed, but you still love it. It soothes you, it makes you happy in a way that a replacement just couldn't do; it's simply one of the things that makes your home; home. That was Matisse's greatest desire, to create a feeling of home, to just make us feel good. I think he got what he wanted.

LE CATEAU-CAMBRESIS

The Younger Years

Born in 1869, at Le Cateau-Cambresis in the north of France, Henri spent his childhood helping out at his parent's general store. His youth was filled with re-stocking and selling items like grain, seeds, and things for the home. As he got older, his father gave him an ultimatum; the family business or law school. Matisse chose law school, and when he returned from his studies in Paris he began his career as working as a clerk in a law office.


That career would soon end, as one year later an attack of appendicitis and the surgery that accompanied it left him housebound. It was during this time that his mother brought him home a gift that was meant to ease his boredom; that gift was a set of paints, and the young man who had never shown an interest in art fell in love with painting. At the age of twenty-one an artist was born.


Matisse continued to work at the law office, but he'd found new focus. Early mornings were consumed with art classes taken before work; days in the office found him doodling flowers (in paint) on legal documents while working; he may not have filed them, but he did supply a bit of beauty to their pages.

ECOLE DES BEAUX-ARTS
ECOLE DES BEAUX-ARTS
MATISSE- SELF PORTRAIT
MATISSE- SELF PORTRAIT

Catching Up

In 1891, against his parent's wishes, Matisse again left home for Paris and an education; art school. The Ecole des Beaux-Arts was one of the most famous art schools in Paris. His studies were difficult, most artists begin dabbling with paints as children, but Matisse was in his twenties, and he had an awful lot of catching up to do. His first teacher mercilessly told him he'd never learn to draw, but he worked hard, and he proved her wrong.

While in school, Henri focused on painting landscapes and still life. His late start left him with many things to learn, particularly the basics; figure drawing, perspective, and composition. Unfortunately, Matisse didn't embrace tradition and he failed tests. He also alienated his instructors, all but one, Gustave Moreau. Moreau believed in Henri even when others didn't. He encouraged him, and he encouraged the creativity that he knew existed; he wanted him to not only use his imagination but to expand it to its fullest.

THE INFLUENCE OF IMPRESSIONISM

In 1898, Matisse's style of painting changed completely when his friend and fellow painter, John Peter Russell introduced him to impressionism. Matisse was fascinated by the paintings of Gauguin, and he was intrigued by the works of a yet unknown artist by the name of Vincent van Gogh. His discovery opened the door into a whole new world, and that world was filled with color, bright vivid colors.

His newfound interest in impressionism found him leaving art school and venturing out to find himself as an artist; it also found him reworking prior paintings that had already been completed. The Dinner Table found itself sporting new splashes of color; its flowers were brighter; its fruit was more desirable, and the glassware shimmered with light. Henri's experimentation, however, didn't pay the bills, and his wife Amelie stepped up to help the family. She raised their two sons, modeled for her husband, and worked at the local milliner. Times were tough, and the family got through those times together. It is said that Matisse often admitted that during their time of poverty he was tempted to eat the fruit he used for models in his still life paintings, and who knows? Some of it looks quite tasty............ maybe he wasn't kidding!

THE DINNER TABLE
THE DINNER TABLE

FAUVISM

Early in the twentieth century artists began to focus on color in order to communicate their feelings; they began to use color in a way that conveyed more than just the mood of the painting; color became an emotional force. Rather than portray a scene in its natural state, Fauvism thrived on the "unnatural." The mundane and boring landscape or still life morphed into something unreal and completely real all at the same time by the artist's use of daring, vibrant color. The group of artists who are known for their use of color are known as the Fauves (Wild Beasts), and they include Mattise, Maurice de Vlaminck, and Derain.


Although Mattise loved the post-impressionistic artwork of painters such as Vincent van Gogh, Fauvism was totally different in its methods. Perception changed, colors were no longer mixed, and brushstrokes strove to be seen........... not hidden. The art itself thrived on the spontenaity of the artist, and the artists thrived in artistic expression.


Matisse turned his apartment into a studio, a stage; it was a set of patterns and colors. He used one simple room and a variety of props over and over again. Look closely at his paintings; how many include a bird cage......... a chinese vase......... a pewter mug, or the comfy chair? How many times do you see the dog, a Schnauzer named Raoudi appear in a painting? He belonged to Mattise and was a cherished pet. Mattise saw his use of props in the same way a director would view the actors he works with; the props were Henri's actors; they could play different parts and yet never change at all.

THE JOY OF LIFE (1905-1906)
THE JOY OF LIFE (1905-1906)

THE DESIRE TO BE BETTER

Before long, Matisse became bored with Fauve. He wanted to improve his art, to convey new feelings; he wanted to be different. The choice of using calmer colors in contrast to the vivid hues he'd once loved was a conscious one. He also began using thinner, more decorative lines for decoration; small changes that would draw the attention of the viewer, changes so small that many may not have noticed the transition. Matisse's bold, bright canvas' became subtly muted and soothing, almost dreamy; they were meant to comfort rather than invigorate.

VIEW OF THE SEA (1906)
VIEW OF THE SEA (1906)
HARMONY IN RED (1908)
HARMONY IN RED (1908)

NORTH AFRICAN INFLUENCE

In the early 1900s, Matisse took a trip to Algeria, a trip that would yet again influence and change his style of painting. His travels through North Africa found him fascinated with the local markets and the wares they sold. He spent his time there studying patterns; the intricate patterns woven into both clothing and carpets, and he brought those studies home with him. Once home, he shared them; he shared them with the world.

Harmony in Red was painted in 1908, and bears a striking resemblance to The Dinner Table. It was purchased by Sergei Shchukin, who also commissioned Matisse to paint a much larger painting for a hallway in his home. That painting would become one of Matisse's most famous; it was titled "Dance."


DANCE (1910)
DANCE (1910)

Matisse's individuality came full circle with the completion of the "Dance." Nothing about this painting reflects classical tradition. Its figures are simple silhouettes, perspective is non-existent, and there is nothing about his choice in colors that invokes reality. Ironically, those choices are the things that give this painting life; its stunning blues and earthy greens combined with shades of red are meant to symbolize joy, and the dancers themselves seem to be alive.

COLLAGE
COLLAGE

TOO OLD TO PAINT?

Henri Matisse lived to be 84 years old. Later in life, he may have found it harder to get around, but he never gave up his art. My introduction to Matisse's work came in the form of collage, the medium he used when standing at an easel for hours had become all but impossible. Matisse described collage as the ability to use scissors for drawing and color to sculpt, and he could do it sitting down. Let's face it, a true artist can paint with anything, and if you can't paint on paper; you can paint with it.

MY FAVORITE MATISSE

NO, MY FAVORITE MATISSE IS NOT A RAINBOW OF COLOR, AND YES, I HAVE BEEN TOLD I'M A QUEER BIRD! ;-D
NO, MY FAVORITE MATISSE IS NOT A RAINBOW OF COLOR, AND YES, I HAVE BEEN TOLD I'M A QUEER BIRD! ;-D

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Comments 36 comments

Justine76 6 years ago

I am loving this renisance art sieries. My favourite was and still is Bosch.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia

Great hub. I'm remembering info from my art history classes that I thought were long forgotten!


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 6 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

Matisse was a Visionary painter, and he is much copied today. I love his art, I have 2 prints of his hanging in my apartment! He painted ladies very different! This is a class hub! Well deserves rating up!!


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

Justine- I'm not very familiar with Bosch........... I'll be looking that one up! Glad you're loving it!

Kaie


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

habee- Isn't it amazing how the "little" things can bring back those memories. I wrote this Hub because of one of those memories, and it wasn't even my memory! My eighth graders just finished doing collages for history on the Holocaust; we had just put them all up when three of the kids reminded me about collages I had done with them in third grade........... Matisse was our teacher for that project, and this Hub evolved from that reminder!

Thank you!

Kaie


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

Cheeky Girl- Yes, Matisse was visionary. I'll bet your apartment is a cheery place........... I see his work and always manage to think "happy."

Thank you for the rating!

Kaie


GPAGE profile image

GPAGE 6 years ago from California

kaie!...Matisse is one of my favorite painters. I actually really love the one you chose as your favorite ; I'm also a big fan of his use of blues and collages...

Anyway, thank you for such a great hub......Best, G


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

GPAGE- Matisse is indeed one of my favorites.......... and yes, like you I love his collages; they were admittedly the first things that hooked me!

Thank you, and you are welcome!

Kaie


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

Thanks for another great addition to a wonderful series of articles. Matisse is one of my favorite artists.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

Yet another excellent Hub by one of my favorite Hubbers! :D

Your exquisite writing makes all of your subjects come alive on the page. You have the gift of engaging your audience and educating them. Thank you for the pleasure.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

breakfastpop- thank you, and might I say you are very welcome!

Kaie


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

James- Me? :-D

Thank you for the compliments.......... the pleasure was all mine!

Kaie


Kendall H. profile image

Kendall H. 6 years ago from Northern CA

I've always loved View from the Sea! I think Matisse is so wonderful but not studied as much as say Picasso. Thanks for the great hub on Matisse!


hypnodude profile image

hypnodude 6 years ago from Italy

Very good and interesting. I didn't know about him, art is honestly around the last of my interests, but he seems worth knowing. Painting to make the viewer feel better, wonderful. Thumbs up. :)


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

Kendall H- He is a wonderful painter, and in my opinion far better than Picasso. But I'm no critic........... only know what I like!

Thank you............ and your welcome!

Kaie


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

hypnodude- Thank you for stopping by.......... art is the least of your interests? That would mean I need to get moving on that wolfie hub!

Thank you for the thumbs up!

Kaie


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

Matisse was indeed a wonderful artist who did make his viewers feel good. I love his work and have since I was very young. I have a lovely book of his etchings which are so elegant and simple, yet say so much with such modest means.

Thanks for an awesome Hub.

Love and peace

Tony


Ign Andy profile image

Ign Andy 6 years ago from Green Home Office

Wonderful painting and hub. Monet and Matisse my favorite artist, I remember them as M&M :)


Kreon48 profile image

Kreon48 6 years ago from New Zealand

Of course Matisse is an outstanding personality, true genius in arts. He is even more than artist, - his works protrude into psychology, spirituality, subconcious, - and helping this world to make it better place. He is my favorite artist, along with Gauguin. Thanks so much for this wonderful posting!


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

Tonymac04- Matisse was indeed a wonderful artist, and you discovered him as a child like I did? He fascinated me!

Thank you, and you are very welcome!

Kaie


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

Ign Andy- That's a great way to remember them, but it makes me hungry! M&M's would be my favorite food from my favorite food group........... the fifth one.......... chocolate!

Thank you for stopping by...........

Kaie


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

Kreon48- I personally look at his art the same way I did as a little girl........... I loved his collages and the bright colors of his painting........... as an adult I've come to appreciate far more of his artwork, and I know exactly what you're talking about!

Thanks for visiting,

Kaie


katyzzz profile image

katyzzz 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Love it, love it. love it, love it, such wonderful work and such variety. Much better than that dull old law.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

katyzzz- thank you, I always try to add the work I believe that most people aren't aware of..................

"Much better than that dull old law." Ya think!!!!!!! :-D

Kaie


epigramman profile image

epigramman 6 years ago

extremely lucky eyes that I have when I view one of your hubs dedicated to the arts.

This is a visual feast thanks to your dedication and love of all things beautiful.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

epigramman- why thank you! Matisse's work is filled with color and joy; that is what life is all about! His work is indeed a visual feast...........

Kaie


Mike Lickteig profile image

Mike Lickteig 6 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

This was a nice review of the life of Matisse--one of my favorite artists. Thanks for sharing the beauty of his work here.

Mike


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

Mike- Thank you for stopping by! I'm glad you enjoyed my short review; his work is indeed beautiful!

Kaie


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

I always look forward to reading your artist tributes Kaie. This one on Matisse was particularly engaging capturing each stage of his career. I particularly liked it 'when he got bored' I still think Danse is one of the most expressive works by an artist with such minimalism at hand. Brilliant.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

Billy- I'm glad you look forward to my work........... I love to delve into the genius behind the artist. I guess we never really think of an artist having the ability to become "bored." Makes him a little more human I think.............. kind of like Leonardo.

Leonardo was a true genius, and ALL OVER THE PLACE............ if he was sitting in a classroom today somebody would be looking to "label" him, settle him down, and medicate the ADHD, and there I'd be in the background yeling "no, no, leave him be!"

Matisse fought the system at home, at school, and during his years of aging.......... he was a true artist! Thank you........... Kaie


tracykarl99 profile image

tracykarl99 6 years ago from San Francisco

Kaie, I so enjoyed reading this. There was so much about Matisse that I did not know ~ fascinating! And the paintings you chose are fantastic. Thanks for an awesome hub:)


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

tracyckarl99- Thanks, I am glad you enjoyed the read! I learned a lot as well, and he was quite the interesting character! Again, I thank you.......... I'm glad you stopped by ~ Kaie


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

Always fun to learn more of the background regarding famous artists and you have created another excellent hub with this one about Matisse. Thanks! I like the swirling lines of your favorite one although it doesn't have the punch of color that most of his do. I can see why you like it.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago Author

Peggy- I must have missed this, sorry! Yes, my favorite doesn't have that punch of color; I think that maybe the sadness took the color in his world away for awhile, almost as if the color rose to the heavens with her soul, and the emptiness is what was left behind. I think that's what he saw as a husband; it's the loss he felt. Some might find it a bit eery; I just think it's beautiful. I'm glad you were here! Kaie


grinnin1 profile image

grinnin1 4 years ago from st louis,mo

Wonderful article, very well written and thorough. I had forgotten about his late start as an artist. Really enjoyable and informative. Thank you!


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 4 years ago Author

You are very welcome! Glad you enjoyed.......... Kaie

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