Instinct must be thwarted just as one prunes the branches of a tree
so that it will grow better.
(b. Dec. 31, 1869, Le Cateau, Picardy, Fr. d. Nov. 3, 1954, Nice)
artist often regarded as the most important French painter of the 20th century.
The leader of the Fauvist movement around 1900,
Matisse pursued the expressiveness of colour throughout his career.
His subjects were largely domestic or figurative, and a distinct
Mediterranean verve presides in the treatment.
The art of our century has been dominated by two men: Henri Matisse and
They are artists of classical greatness, and their visionary forays
into new art have changed our understanding of the world. Matisse was
the elder of the two, but he was a slower and more methodical man
by temperament and it was Picasso who initially made the greater splash.
was a born leader and taught and encouraged other painters, while Picasso,
inhibited them with his power: he was a natural czar.
Matisse's artistic career was long and varied, covering many different
styles of painting from
Impressionism to near Abstraction.
Early on in his career Matisse was viewed as a Fauvist, and his
celebration of bright colors reached its peak in 1917 when he began
to spend time on the French Riviera at Nice and Vence. Here he
concentrated on reflecting the sensual color of his surroundings and
completed some of his most exciting paintings. In 1941 Matisse was
diagnosed as having duodenal cancer and was permanently confined to
a wheelchair. It was in this condition that he completed the magnificent
Chapel of the Rosary in Vence.
Matisse's art has an astonishing force and lives by innate right in a
paradise world into which Matisse draws all his viewers. He gravitated to
the beautiful and produced some of the most powerful beauty ever painted.
He was a man of anxious temperament, just as Picasso, who saw him as his
only rival, was a man of peasant fears, well concealed. Both artists, in
their own fashion, dealt with these disturbances through the sublimation
of painting: Picasso destroyed his fear of women in his art, while Matisse
coaxed his nervous tension into serenity. He spoke of his art as being
like a good armchair a ludicrously inept comparison for such a
brilliant man but his art was a respite, a reprieve, a comfort to him.
Matisse initially became famous as the King of the
inappropriate name for this gentlemanly intellectual: there was no wildness
in him, though there was much passion. He is an awesomely controlled artist,
and his spirit, his mind, always had the upper hand over the beast