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Henri Matisse

December 31, 1869 - November 3, 1954


French painter, sculptor, draftsman, and printmaker Henrí Matisse (b. 1869 – d. 1954) was born December 31st of 1869 in Le Cateau- Cambrésis and was raised in Bohain. He was exposed to textiles, cloths, and fabrics at an early age. This exposure, as Bohain was famous for making textiles and cloths, would greatly impact his artistic sense. Travelling in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, Matisse became intrigued by the varying textiles from these different places and he used this sense of color as well as pattern in many of his works.

Matisse learned to further his artistic sense with the Symbolist artist Gustave Moreau and attended one of the many official salons in Paris, France. He was working in the sun in the of South France when, during the summers of 1904 and 1905, inspiration hit him. During this time of inspiration, he painted works of art that seemed to form a coherent piece, the likes of which no one had seen before. The elements he used consisted of optics, dynamics, and the contrast of the work clashing with its brightness, all joining together as one. By doing so, he unintentionally created a movement known as Fauvism or, when translated, Wild Beasts. It was a new and unconventional style at the time. He had created a style in which works were both easy to look at and incorporated dimensions in them.

Matisse worked in this Fauve style for most of his career until he underwent surgery in the 1920s for cancer, which left him wheelchair bound for the duration of his life. Even while immobile and disabled from his surgery, he went on and created his famous cut-outs. Many artists called this his “Nice” period; he felt alive and would let nothing stop him. He created cut-outs until his death in 1954 on the third of November. He believed that the key to painting was combining purity of color, simplicity, and balance into his art all throughout his life. To this day, he is viewed as a renowned artist and, while his paintings are famous, his cut-outs are just as popular.

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