For this week's Monday Muse on the theme of the artist, I'll speak about one of my favourites, Henri Matisse. Born in France on December 31st, 1869, he would grow to become one of the greatest colourists of our time. Rejecting his studies of law, Matisse discovered his passion for painting, emerging as a Post-Impressionist. Matisse eventually became a symbol for the Fauvism movement, depicted in its use of vibrant colours in realistic expression, and developed an ongoing friendship and rivalry with Pablo Picasso. His subjects most often included still life and nudity, all decorated in varieties of colour. In addition, Matisse is also well known for his collage art.
What is signature to Matisse's paintings are his particular styles in using colour. He rarely blends colours but instead keeps them separate in modularity. He had many influences from Asian art, for instance the flatness of Japanese paintings, and following his travels to North Africa, adopted certain styles from their culture.
Within most of his work, the human body acts as a motif, occasionally distorted but otherwise curved and soft. His focus on the human figure follows Impressionism and it's lack of appearance in that movement.
Overall, Matisse's art can be viewed with contentment. He said himself:
"What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject-matter, an art which could be for every mental worker, for the businessman as well as the man of letters, for example, a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue."
Here are some of my favourite works by Henri Matisse: