Using colors, contrasts, and the human form in his works, Henri Matisse (1869-1954) went down in history as one of the world’s greatest artists for his sculptures, paintings, and paper renditions.
His later work in France was inspired by his visits to Italy, Morocco, and other countries in Africa. Ironically, his paintings and work presently sell for millions, but in his own time, he found it difficult to support his family and children.
Until he was around the age of twenty, he did not do much in the way of art. He worked as a court administrator and after being bedridden for appendicitis; he found art would pass his time, as if he were in ‘paradise’. He knew his calling and by the next year decided to go to Paris to study at the Academie Julian. Inspired by the works of the time, namely by post-impressionism, he always focused on the importance and ability of color to speak to the painter and the viewer. He often used pointillist techniques at the turn of the century.
He then moved to the French Riviera to work with a group of artists who became known as the Fauves or Wild Beasts for their flat, distinct work using symmetric lines that were to be expressive and non-detailed. Following this stint, he moved to Montparnasse. He then moved and lived outside of Nice so he could be close to the Riviera. Throughout World War I, he lived there painting. After the war, his paintings revealed a return to something concrete, subdued, and physical in nature – something quite common in artistic circles of the day as artists also searched for answers to a war that had taken so much and so many.
His paintings Still Life with Geranium and Reclining Nude I are some of his most recognized works. It was his travels, however, to Spain, Germany, Russia, and Africa that would affect the painter’s work. By 1920, he had become a world-renowned artist and was commissioned by several prominent figures to complete murals, sculptures, and to give presentations. In his art, he fought against technology and vied for a return to something simpler and more expressive. Islamic art in particular influenced him to create decoration instead of human figures, as seen for example, in his sculpture Odalisque with Raised Arms.
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