Henri Matisse, 20th century master
Henri Matisse was born on December 31, 1869 in Le Cateau-Cambresis, Nord, France. His parents owned a seed business. Like many of the Impressionist artists who came before him had done, Matisse attended law school beginning in 1887. He didn’t begin painting until 1889 when his mother gave him paints to keep him busy while he got over an appendicitis attack. He quickly decided that this was what he wanted to do with his life, disappointing his father greatly.
Matisse began studying art at the Academie Julian in 1891. From 1907 to 1911, he ran the Academie Matisse where he taught others how to paint.
In 1894, Mattise became a father when one of his models had a daughter. In 1898, Matisse married Amelie Noelle Parayre; the couple had two sons. They were divorced in 1939.
Matisse had his first exhibit in 1896 where the state bought two of his paintings. Matisse began with painting still-life’s and was greatly influenced early on by the work of the Impressionists; he experimented with many techniques including pointillism. He had his first solo exhibition in 1904, which was also the same year he met Pablo Picasso and became lifelong friends with the Spanish artist. In 1905, Matisse exhibited with a group of “Fauves” artists.
Matisse’s top painting period is considered to be the years between 1906 and 1917, in which he painted some of his best known works of art; including Madras Rouge (1908) and The Danse (1909). Matisse was always known for his stunning colors.
In 1941, Matisse became wheelchair-bound after undergoing a colostomy but continued to paint. His daughter was active in the French Resistance during World War II and was briefly held at a Nazi concentration camp. Matisse himself was totally non-political. In 1952, he opened a museum for his works in his hometown.
In later years, when painting became difficult for Matisse, he turned to paper cut-outs. In 1947, he published a folder featuring many of his cut-outs called Jazz. It featured many of his cut-outs plus handwritten text by the artist.
Originally, Jazz was 24 x 12 inches in size and unbound, the pages were folded. In order to create the prints for the book, Matisse painted paper with gouache and cut out a shape he wanted to. He then would lay it out on another piece of gouache painted paper. Assistants would then prepare it for printing.
Most of the cut-outs in Jazz feature theatrical or circus themes. The most famous and what is usually used as the cover, was Icarus based on the myth about the boy who flew too close to the sun.
There were only 250 copies of Jazz made originally and some are housed in places such as The Victoria and Albert Museum in London and at Indiana University. They have not held up that well to the passage of time.
Jazz is still available in book form.
Henri Matisse died of a heart on November 3, 1954. He, along with Pablo Picasso, is considered by many to be the greatest artist of the 20th century.
Quotes by Matisse
An artist must never be a prisoner.
Prisoner? An artist should never be a prisoner of himself, prisoner of style,
prisoner of reputation, prisoner of success, etc.
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.
Creativity takes courage.
Cutting into color reminds me of the sculptor's direct carving.
Derive happiness in oneself from a good day's work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us.
Drawing is like making an expressive gesture with the advantage of permanence.
Exactitude is not truth.
He who loves, flies, runs, and rejoices; he is free and nothing holds him back.
I do not literally paint that table, but the emotion it produces upon me.
I don't know whether I believe in God or
not. I think, really, I'm some sort of Buddhist. But the essential thing is to
put oneself in a frame of mind which is close to that of prayer.
I don't paint things. I only paint the difference between things.