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  • Russ Ramsey

Getting to know Henri Matisse

For this Art Wednesday we’ll look at the life and work of the French modernist, fauvist painter Henri Matisse (1869-1954). Matisse, along with Picasso, is regarded as one of the fathers of 20th century modern art.

Matisse, Self-Portrait in a Striped T-shirt 1906


Matisse is known for his colorful, flat, almost decorative designs. He approached painting as though it was a language—not just a visual medium. His body of work is his attempt at expressing that language.

Matisse, Landscape at Collioure, 1905


Matisse’s “The Red Room” painting was originally commissioned as ‘Harmony in Blue,” but he was dissatisfied with the end result, so he painted it over the blue with his preferred red.

Matisse, The Red Room (also Harmony in Red), 1908


Matisse started painting in 1889 due to a bout with appendicitis. During his recovery, his mother bought him some painting supplies to give him something to do. He painted this still life the following year.

Matisse, Still Life with Books and Candle, 1890


Matisse was part of the Fauvism style, emphasizing the appearance of wild brushwork and bold colors focused on simplification and abstraction over the realism of the Romantics and Impressionists.

Matisse, View of Collioure, 1905


Matisse’s “The Dance I” and “The Dance II” were commissioned by the Russian businessman and art collector Sergei Shchukin. These works are considered a key turning point int the development of modern art.

Matisse, Dance 1, 1909


Matisse battled cancer in his later years and died of a heart attack in 1954. His son Pierre opened a Modern Art Gallery in New York that showed the works of artists like Chagall and Miró alongside his father’s work.

Matisse, Still Life with Dance, 1909


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