Henri Matisse Biography | Oil Paintings

12-31-1869 Le Cateau, FRA - 11-3-1954 Nice, FRA

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Matisse, Henri

Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse, French painter, printmaker, and designer; the dominant figure in the Fauvist movement. Henry Matisse, one of the pillars of the twentieth-century art, was a great poet of color and the curved line and had a wonderful sense of the decorative. Initially a lawyer's clerk, Matisse turned to art in 1890. His first teacher, Bouguereau, was a disappointment, but he learned a great deal from his second master, Gustave Moreau, a Symbolist painter with a taste for exotic coloring, toward the end of the nineteenth century, when the memory of pure colors of Van Gogh and Gauguin was still fresh.

Matisse's early works were Impressionist or Neo-Impressionist in character but, after painting trips to the Mediterranean, he began to use more vivid colors; using them to create an emotional impact, rather than to transcribe nature.

After years of failure, Henri Matisse and his friends made their breakthrough at the Salon d'Automne of 1905. By 1905 he had produced some of the boldest color images ever created, including a striking picture of his wife, The Green Stripe (Portrait of Madame Matisse). Critics were overwhelmed by the dazzling canvasses on display and dubbed the group Les Fauves (the wild beasts).

In 1907 Matisse began a kind of dialogue with Picasso and the Cubist movement. He also studied Japanese prints, Persian ceramics, and the designs of the Arab world, which all contributed to the evolution of his unique style. Although his human figures became increasingly geometric, he maintained a taste for bright color, the evocation of a particular setting, and a relationship with the decorative that led him, in later years, to seek inspiration in Spain and Morocco but he continued to find his greatest inspiration from painting on the bright Riviera.

His brightly colored oil paintings such as The Goldfish. The motif of the goldfish bowl, a recurring symbol in Matisse's work, was inspired by a trip to Morocco, which is also recalled in the lush depiction of the plants and flowers.

The blue room becomes The Red Room (Harmony in Red), in this painting's preliminary stage, Matisse had painted the room with a blue-green tone, which he later changed because as he wrote in a letter to the Russian collector Sergei Shchukin, “it began to seem not decorative enough”.

How Matisse Painted The Dance?

Sergei Shchukin also commissioned Matisse to paint, now, one of the icons of modern art, La Danse (The Dance). Matisse himself, aware of its importance, made reference to it in many of his other works. By simplifying the figure' outlines and reducing the range of colors, Matisse succeeds in creating a serene, poetic atmosphere. The ring of faceless, timeless girls engaged in the spectator in a simple and natural circular rhythm that seems never ending. Matisse describes how the painting originated as follows: “I really love to dance. It is a truly extraordinary thing, life, and rhythm. For me, it is easy to live with dance. When I had to paint a dance for Moscow, I simply went one Sunday to the Moulin de la Galette. I watched how they danced... the dancers ran through the hall, holding hands, winding like a ribbon around a rather disconcerted public...As soon as I got home, I composed my dance on a four-meter surface, humming the same tune I had heard at the Moulin de la Galette so that the entire composition and all the dancers would be moving to the same rhythm”.

The focal point of the composition is the lack of contact between the hands of the dancers on the painting's far left. From the two figures mutual attempt to grasp hands, so as to not break the circular rhythm of the dance, emerge the counterbalance diagonals, elastic curves, and unceasing, almost insistent, a movement that traverses the entire painting. The energy released by the painting is reinforced by the absolute simplicity of the elements, earth, sky and the human figure, precisely identified and emphasized by the artist's use of colors red, blue, and green. La Dance was commissioned by the renowned Moscow collector Sergei Shchukin, who did not balk at the scandalous idea of hanging a huge painting with nude women in his own home. While Matisse was still working on the painting, Shchukin wrote to him, “I find that the panel of the dance possesses such grandeur that I have decided to defy bourgeoise opinion and hang a work with nudes above my staircase”.

In 1911, he oversaw the installation of his paintings in galleries in Moscow and contributed to the evolution of its avant-garde. Throughout his long career, he never ceased to expand his own visual horizon in an inexhaustible crescendo of creativity that extended to tapestry, ceramics, the murals of Saint Paul de Vance. He decorated a chapel in Vence in southern France, in gratitude for a nun who had nursed him, and experimented with cut-outs, pictures formed from colored paper shapes rather than paint.

Unlike many artists, he was internationally popular during his lifetime, enjoying the favor of art collectors, art critics and the younger generation of artists. The art of the 20th century has been dominated by two men, one of which is Henri Matisse. He was an artist of classical greatness and his visionary forays into new art have changed our understanding of the world and made him one of the world's artists.

Art Movement History: Fauvism, Post-Impressionism.
Artists Influencing Henri Matisse: Paul Signac, Gustave Moreau, Paul Cezanne, Henri-Edmond Cross.
He Traveled To Morocco, USA, Spain.
Painters Henri Matisse Influenced: Yoshio Aoyama, Per Krohg, Henrik Sørensen1, Lydia Délectorskaya.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist.

Henri Matisse Hand-Painted Oil Painting Reproductions.

Henri Matisse Museum Art Replicas on Canvas.