Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
One of the most famous artists of the Twentieth Century, alongside Picasso and Miro, Matisse was both prolific and hugely talented. His life as an art student began in 1891 at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris, a school grounded in tradition and academic training methods. His first solo show opened at Galerie Vollard in 1904 where he exhibited his bright neo-impressionist paintings.
In the early years of his career Matisse was associated with Raoul Dufy, Maurice de Vlaminick, and André Derain and became part of Fauve movement in France. The Fauves stressed the use of explosive colours and expression that were previously unknown in the history of art. The movement went on to influence many of the century’s great artists. Although he worked in that style for only two years, this is the art with which Matisse has been most closely identified.
Matisse was influenced by his trips to North Africa and elsewhere after the First World War, reflected in the Mediterranean infused interiors of this period and the famous Odalisque women that he depicted. By the 1930s Matisse was a well-established artist with works in museums and galleries worldwide.
In the 1940s Matisse began to struggle with his health, which had an inevitable impact on his ability to paint, and shaped the artwork he produced until his death 1954. Despite the frustrations of illness Matisse’s artwork was able to move into new areas and it was at this time that he began working with paper collages and cut-outs, as well as continuing with very simplistic line drawings. Matisse’s work appears to become more abstract at this point, as he focused on the bare essentials in his depictions. Some of Matisse’s most recognisable work comes from this later period of his life and was the result of a rich and varied career as a creative artist.