Known for his usage of colour as well as fluid and original draughtsmanship Henri Matisse came to art comparatively late in life. He earned his reputation as the main protagonist of Fauvism, which is the first avant-garde movement at the turn of the century. Matisse’s long career culminated in a highly original series of works made of paper cut-outs, which confirmed his reputation, with Picasso, as one of the major artists of the 20th century.
Matisse as born on New Year’s Eve in 1869 in Le Cateau-Cambrésis in northern France. Following in the footsteps of his family, Matisse was destined to become a seed seller. However, he struggled to carry heavy loads due to his ill health and taking over the family business therefore became impossible.
Rather, he began law studies to become a clerk, but at the age of 20 a bout of appendicitis forced him to remain in bed for many weeks. While he had had no interest in art until then, he asked his parents for a box of paint to pass the time.
The Beginning Of Matisse’s Love Affair With Painting
Henri started to explore painting. His mother prompted him not to follow the conventional rules of art but rather to try out new things and also to paint his emotions.
Matisse spent a year studying art at the Academie Julian in Paris, however he left to learn under the artist Gustave Moreau, where he could discover more modern styles of painting. In 1897, Matisse encountered painter John Peter Russell. Russell presented Impressionism to Matisse and to the work of renowned Van Gogh. It opened up a wholly new world to Matisse.
His first creation, entitled ‘Essitam’, was a reproduction of a chromo included inside the work. As Matisse himself recounted in his Memoirs: ‘From the moment I held the box of colours in my hands, I knew that this was my life.’
Matisse painted his very first masterpiece in 1897, long before online NZ casino came about, and it was called The Dinner Table. He resumed painting and was influenced by artists such as Van Gogh and Cezanne. He studied the works of J.M.W. Turner as well and even took on some of the style of Pointillism from Seurat.
The Head Of Fauvism
The exhibition of Matisse’s paintings at the Salon d’Automne (Autumn Salon) in 1905, as well as those of Albert Marquet, Vlaminck, Derain and Kees van Dongen, provoked a strong reaction from the public. Their pure, bright and dominant colours, thickly layered on their canvases, caused scandal.
Critic Louis Vauxcelles famously compared the room exhibiting their works as a ‘cage of wild beasts’. All the same, his words were adopted by the painters themselves, and thus was born the artistic movement of Fauvism. Henri Matisse soon became leader of the group thanks to his Woman with a Hat, considered outrageous at the time.
Marguerite Matisse, who was the artist’s daughter from an early relationship, turn out to be a leader of the French Resistance during the time of World War II. Marguerite was captured by the Gestapo in 1944 and was bound for the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp when, by a marvel of fate, Allied bombing interrupted the train carrying her and she managed to escape.