Henri Émile Benoît Matisse (31 December 1869 – 3 November 1954) was a French artist, known for both his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter.
Matisse is commonly regarded, along with Pablo Picasso, as one of the artists who best helped to define the revolutionary developments in the visual arts throughout the opening decades of the twentieth century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture.
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Interesting Facts About Henri Matisse
- Henri Matisse didn’t set out to become an artist. As a young man in Paris he studied law, passing his bar exam with distinction and even taking a job as a law clerk.
- Matisse studied with the French academic painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau in 1891 at the Académie Julian.
- Matisse was one key leaders of Fauvism, the 20th century’s first avant-garde art movement. Active from roughly 1905 to 1910, Fauvism radically reinterpreted color as an expressive and structural element, divorced from literal description. “When I put down a green, it doesn‘t mean grass; and when I put down a blue, it doesn’t mean the sky,” Matisse declared.
- While living in Vence, France, at the Villa Le Rêve in the 1940s, Matisse had three cats Minouche, Coussi and La Puce whom he fed pieces of brioche every morning.
- His early paintings were surprisingly conservative, but Matisse experienced an artistic about-face when his friend the Australian painter John Peter Russell introduced him to the work of Vincent van Gogh in 1897.
- So enamored was Matisse of Paul Cézanne’s Three Bathers (1879–82) that the impoverished artist purchased the painting from dealer Ambroise Vollard with a promissory note.
- In the last years of his life Matisse was confined to a wheelchair. As painting became increasingly difficult physically, the artist turned to his cut-out technique. He made shapes of paper with a scissor, which he then arranged using a long stick in a technique he called “painting with scissors.”
- Marguerite Matisse, the artist’s daughter from an early relationship, became a leader of the French Resistance during World War II. She was captured by the Gestapo in 1944 and was bound for Ravensbruck concentration camp, when by a miracle of fate, Allied bombing disrupted the train carrying her and she managed to escape.