Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954) Painter
Henri Émile Benoît Matisse Henri Matisse was born on December 31, 1869 in Nord, France. In 1887 he went to Paris and studied to become a lawyer. He first started to paint in 1889 when his mother gave him paints to keep him busy while he was recovering from appendicitis. He decided that painting was “a kind of paradise” and he quit being a lawyer in favor of being an artist (much to his fathers dismay).
He went to art school in Paris, painting still lifes and landscapes in traditional style. In 1897, he visited a friend in Brittany who introduced him to Impressionism and the work of Vincent VanGogh (who was unknown then). Matisse’s style changed completely after seeing what they were doing.The paintings of this period used flat shapes and controlled lines. Luxembourg Gardens (1901)
In 1905, Matisse joined a group of artists who exhibited paintings which expressed emotion with wild unnatural colors. An art critic dubbed these painters the “Fauves” which meant wild beasts. The paintings were criticized harshly, and for a while, it was hard for Matisse to make a living as a painter. Woman with a Hat (1905)
Vase, Bottle and Fruit (1906) Matisse joined a community of artists in Montparnasse (Paris) even though he didn’t fit in perfectly with his serious work habits and conservative look.
In 1904 he met Pablo Picasso and the two became life-long friends as well as rivals. Both artists liked to paint still lives and women. One important difference between the two is that Matisse painted from nature, while Picasso painted what he imagined. Portrait of Madame Matisse (1905) Self Portrait (1906)
La Chute d’Icare (Icarus) (1947)
La Tristesse du Roi (1952) “The Sorrows of the King”
In 1939 he separated from his wife of 39 years. He had surgery and afterward used a wheelchair. He started making collages from cut paper, which he called “Painting with scissors”. He died in November 1954 and is buried, with his wife, in Cimiez, France (near Nice).