• gerard van weyenbergh

Henri Matisse, his art + video youtube

In short

Henri Matisse (1869–1954) made an intensive contribution to modern art adventure and so did his friend and rival Pablo Picasso. Leader of the Fauvist painters, Matisse's art is based on color, in a search for balance with the purity of the line. He focused on certain recurring themes, such as body movement and dance. Major artist of the XXth century, he innovated in the pictorial and sculptural fields; he pioneered in the drawings field and collages with the famous "paper cut".

He said

"We are going to serenity by simplifying ideas and plastic. "- ["Notes of a painter ", December 25, 1908]

His life

Henri Matisse was born in Cateau-Cambrésis, in the North of France, and discovered his passion for painting at the age of 20. In 1892, he was a student at the School of Decorative Arts, in Paris, and prepares for the Beaux Arts school by working in Gustave Moreau's studio, who encouraged him to develop his own style. Matisse ultimately did not follow the classical path and attended the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, where he was also introduced to sculpture.

After a passage in the orbit of the neo-impressionists, the artist embarks on the adventure of pure color. In 1905 he participated in the Salon d'Automne, where he became the Fauvist leader alongside André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck . The painter works in large flat areas of color, renounces mimetic realism, and develops an Arcadian iconography. He is in search of a renewed ideal, classic but modern.

Henri Matisse has a great sense of decoration. The arabesque is his favorite line, he cultivates it in particular through themes borrowed from the imagination of the Orient. After his installation in Nice during the years of the Great War, odalisques became one of his favorite subjects. Matisse likes to work on the same motif, which he renews in multiple variations.

In the 1940s, the artist had cancer. Restricted in his mobility, he worked on gouaches and cutout wallpapers and began the "Jazz" series, resulting in a book. Installed in Vence, in Provence, he designed a large decor for the Chapel of the Rosary, in gratitude for the care provided by his nurse, who became a Dominican sister. Opened in 1951, this total decor (stained glass, ceramics, furniture, vestments, ornaments) is a major contribution to the XX th century's sacred art. Matisse considered it to be his masterpiece. The artist died in 1954.

His key works

© henrimatisse.org

Woman with a hat, 1905

This painting was exhibited at the Salon d'Automne in 1905. Matisse became the flagship artist of the Fauve movement, which favored bright colors and flat areas. He takes liberties concerning the tradition of portraiture: the pose is classic, but the colors are freed from reality; the background, abstract, resembles a palette.

© henrimatisse.org

The Dance, 1909

This monumental format is almost a decoration, of which Matisse produced two versions. The artist treats the movement of the body through the theme of the dance which here seems primitive and tribal. The characters are naked. The genius consists in using only three colors, each as vivid as the other, but spared in a perfect balance.


Blue Nude II, 1952

This work belongs to the period of paper cutouts, at the end of the painter's life. The female body is stylized, very sensual, although Matisse used the color blue, unnatural for such a subject. This work testifies to his mastery in the art of color.

© Chapelle du Saint Rosaire

The Chapel of the Rosary: ​​stained glass window, 1951

The decoration of the Chapel of the Rosary is Matisse's ultimate work. In the stained glass windows, the artist develops plant motifs inspired by nature but with great stylization, harmonious oppositions of bright colors, which border on abstraction and in any case recall the technique of paper cutouts dear to the artist until upon his death in 1954. © Beaux-Arts Magazine- Claire Mingon

Video about art of Matisse, 55 minutes on youtube