Art on This Day
One of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, Henri Émile-Benoît Matisse (31 December 1869 – 3 November 1954) changed the landscape of modern art and influenced the art of the generations that followed him. Matisse was a French artist, and he is best known for his use of colour and his original style. Although he worked across various mediums, as a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, most associate Matisse with his paintings.
Matisse’s introduction to painting was unusual; following an attack of appendicitis, his mother brought him art supplies during his recovery period. His mother, whom Matisse spoke of fondly throughout his life, advocated breaking the rules of art in favour of following one’s emotions. Matisse described painting as a “kind of paradise”, and whilst his work gives the appearance of effortlessness, Matisse worked hard to achieve the balance between purity and serenity.
After finding his own unique style, Matisse enjoyed greater success, and began to travel to garner inspiration. His art was purchased by prominent collectors such as Gertrude Stein and Sergei Shchukin whom he had a long association with. In 1898, Matisse would travel to London to study the paintings of J.M.W Turner, and when he returned to Paris he worked alongside Andre Derain and Jean Puy.
In March 1909, Matisse received a commission from the Russian merchant Sergei Shchukin for two large decorative panels, Dance and Music. This painting was made quickly as a compositional study for Dance, which was intended to hang on the landing of a staircase, approached from the lower right
Dance (I) by Henri Matisse
Matisse was also part of the Fauve movement. Fauve means wild beasts and got its name from the very bold colors used by this group of artists. The purple robe was completed in 1937. It depicts Matisse's assistant. This painting is an example of Henri Matisse's mature decorative style.
Purple Robe by Henri Matisse
Although Matisse immersed himself in work, he ran up large debts buying works from those he admired, like that of Van Gogh, Cezanne and Rodin.
Matisse’s work still attracts immense attention today, and was the focus of the largest show of cut outs ever at London’s Tate Modern. The show then travelled to New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Matisse’s works frequently sell for large sums at auction, proving just how timeless his work is.
More in Art on this day
Focus Kazakhstan's Eurasian Utopia: Post ScriptumAs the final show of the series begins, we reflect on the Focus Kazakhstan initiative. November 26, 2018