When describing what purpose art should serve, Henri Matisse stated that art should be a reprieve from the everyday mental stresses. He believed that art should be positive and for anyone who needed it. This optimistic outlook can be seen in Matisse’s use of bright color and celebration of landscapes and the human form. While this was seen by some of his contemporaries as garish and controversial, Matisse remains a favorite to this day.
While Matisse explored many styles, his primary focus was always his use of color. The colors were often left pure and unmixed. White was only achieved by leaving parts of the canvas untouched. This passion for color was attributed to his mother, who painted on porcelain. When he first began to paint, she had encouraged him to paint how he felt and not to concern himself with following a particular style or set of rules. This willingness to explore led Henri Matisse to becoming one of the vanguard of Modern art.
One of Henri Matisse’s lasting legacies is in leading Fauvism or “wild beast.” Fauvism was among the first Modern movements of the last century. The Fauvist artists were not interested in representing the actual world, but in expressing color and pattern. Concepts such as perspective was exchanged for subjectivity. Fauvism was not a singular movement, but a group of artists who were united in their interest in dramatic color. Brushstrokes were as bold as the outrageous colors.
Fauvism was not readily accepted by the public. The first show in 1905 was met with shock and jeers. Critic Camille Mauclair described Matisse’s Woman with a Hat as, “A pot of paint has been flung in the face of the public.” The bright colors and hastily finished quality seemed bizarre at the time. Despite the painting being the source of criticism, it was quickly purchased by Gertrude Stein’s family.
While Fauvism inspired many artists to take bolder chances, it did not last long as a single movement. However, Matisse continued to grow from Fauvism. He took the adventurism and expressive quality of Fauvism to other forms of art such as drawing and sculpture.
As Henri Matisse grew older and became ill, painting became more difficult. However, this did not discourage him. In the 1940s, Matisse began to work with paper cutouts as art. The focus on shape and abstract composition harkened back to his earlier days as an artist. This was a continuation of the driving force of Matisse’s career – color and form as manifestation of inner emotion.
Kenny Ackerman is an Art Dealer in New York, specializing in Fine Art Paintings from 19th-21st century Europe and America. To buy or sell original paintings by artists we represent, contact Ackerman’s Fine Art here.