Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse (1869-1954) is known as one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, and is regarded as one of the few artists who helped define and revolutionise the course of modern art. His work shaped the minds of artists for several decades after his rise to fame, and his work is celebrated across the globe.

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The artist’s expressive use of colour and decorative pattern confirms him as a key figure in modern art. We love how Matisse used colour to denote expression, and how through his art he ultimately aimed to “create a soothing, calming influence on the mind”. A large portion of his work is defined by his bold and uncompromising colour palette. Matisse attributes this to his trip to a small fishing village in Provence, where the bright light of Southern France inspired an entirely new direction in his work.

While working in a law firm, Matisse began to take drawing classes before work. This is where his love for painting was nurtured, and in 1921 Matisse moved to Paris to train full time. Matisse’s lifelong career can be defined in stages, from the Fauvism of the early twentieth century, to his more relaxed style of the 1920’s, and finally the cut out work completed later in life when he was too frail to paint. After finishing his last painting in 1951, Matisse used the cut-out method until his death in 1954. 

Matisse’s work is held in the collections of a variety of international galleries, and he has received a variety of retrospectives in his honour. These include a retrospective exhibition at The Grand Palais in 1970, another retrospective of his works at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1992-93, and a show dedicated to his cut-outs at the Tate Modern in 2014.

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