Artists & Designers

Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

Born in Le Cateau-Cambresis, France in 1869, Henri Matisse began his art career at age 21 during a convalescent period and soon gave up his law practice to study art in Paris. During his early painting career (1890-1905), he produced restrained Chardin-like interiors and still lifes. Yet soon he was to acquire two drawings by van Gogh and Cezanne's Three Bathers, which were to strongly influence his work in the following period.

In 1905 he began experimenting with post-Impressionist techniques and theory, and while neo-Impressionism was a major influence on his heightened palette, Cezanne's work had the deepest impact. By the same year he had become friends with André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, and Paul Signac, and together with the other Fauvist painters, they exhibited their works in the Salon d'Automne. Matisse's big figural compositions of the period were poetic in mood and increasingly simple. They revealed a form that eliminated modulation of color and used broken brushwork. Subsequently he met Gertrude Stein who became an important patron, and through her he met Pablo Picasso. From 1907-14 he traveled extensively throughout Europe, yet returned to the south of France each summer to continue his painting. He exhibited constantly until World War II and continued his close contact with Albert Marquet, Juan Gris, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Pierre Bonnard. From 1948 on he worked extensively with cut-out colored papers. His shift in medium, and the simplified compositions that resulted, contributed to his great reputation among young artists, as well as with the general public.

Adapted from

  • DMA unpublished material, n.d.

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