Henri Matisse (1869-1954) is a major figure of modern art and considered a leader of Fauvism. He is considered, along with Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp, a pioneer of innovation in visual arts in the early 20th-century. Widely known for his use of color, line work, and exaggerated form to depict traditional subject matter, Matisse sought to establish a sense of emotion and feeling in his work.
Matisse initially moved to Paris to study and practice law, but by 1891 he decided to pursue an artistic career after a brief bout of appendicitis. He studied at Académie Julian. His early works were heavily influenced by Impressionism and incorporated Divisionist techniques. After seeing the work of Henri Edmond Cross and Paul Signac, his work moved towards Fauvism in 1904 as he embraced the expressionistic, painterly style most notable by the loose brushstrokes and fantastic color. While Fauvism as a movement only lasted a few years, Matisse’s career continued to gain support, most notably from Gertrude Stein, who was an important supporter of his work. He was a staple at her Paris salon, and that is where he was first introduced to Pablo Picasso. During this time, Matisse traveled frequently to Northern Africa, including Algeria and Morocco, and studied African and Islamic art, which became a heavy influence on his interiors. In 1917, he relocated to a suburb outside of Nice on the French Riviera, where he would live until his death. He began to incorporate softer color palettes and more conservative elements of form.
Matisse first made aquatints in 1931 in response to Mallaarme. During this period, his work is characterized by its use of bold line and simplified elements. Between 1947 and 1952, Matisse made thick-line aquatints simultaneously with his late cut-outs. Theses were his last prints. Some images are inspired by faces of Middle Eastern women, such as Bedouin women in head wraps, as well as nudes, some of which were headless. Matisse was hit hard by Rembrandt’s portraits and faces, and he loved to transform and celebrate the female face and figure though line work. He had a creative blast at the end of his life, a time that saw the post-deprivation of World War II and the German occupation of France.
Recent exhibitions include Henri Matisse: The Cut Outs, which opened at Tate Modern, London in the spring of 2014 and later traveled to the Museum of Modern Art, New York. His work has been the subject of important solo and group shows throughout the world, including Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Moderna Museet, Stockholm, among others.