Henri Matisse was born in December 1869 in Le Cateau, France. He began painting during recovery from an operation and after giving up his law career, he moved to Paris in 1891 to study art. Matisse became an accomplished painter and one of the most influential artists of the 1900s.
Matisse’s own early style was a conventional form of naturalism, influenced by some the old masters. As he progressed, he began to experiment, earning a reputation as a rebellious artist. His style began to evolve in 1897 when he studied the work of Van Gogh. It was shortly after that Matisse painted Woman with a Hat, 1905. The painting was of his wife Amelie, executed in bright shades of whites, blues and greens. The painting received a lot of critical backlash because it was a departure from the type of academic painting they expected. As a result, it earned Matisse the label of “fauve”, meaning “wild beast”. Owing to these critics, Matisse gave rise to a new art movement called Fauvism. Other well-known members of the movement include Georges Braque and Maurice de Vlaminck. As the leader of the Fauve group, Matisse became one of the great figures in 20th-century art. To convey emotional expression, his paintings focused on expressive planes of colour with particular attention on lines. The over-exaggerated brushstrokes and unrefined nature of his pieces made his work revolutionary.
From the 1920s until his death, Matisse spent much time in the south of France, painting local scenes in bright colours. In his old age, he created the decoration of the small Chapel of Saint-Marie du Rosaire near Cannes. He completed it between 1947 and 1951 but this would be his last major masterpiece. Bedridden during his last years, he occupied himself by creating works of coloured paper cutouts arranged on a canvas surface, such as La Gerbe (1953). Matisse died in Nice on November 3, 1954. Unlike many artists, he was popular during his lifetime, enjoying praise from collectors and art critics.
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