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Matisse, Henri

*1869 Le Cateau-Cambrésis (FR) – †1954 Nice (FR)

The painter and sculptor Henri Matisse counts as the most important co-founder of Fauvism and early Expressionism. The young Matisse first studied law and discovered painting almost incidentally. While recovering from surgery, he overcame his boredom by painting. Soon afterwards, Matisse decided to study art at the Ècole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
Initially, he copied the old masters; later he was interested in the techniques and ideas of modern styles and in what the Impressionists wanted to convey. Artists such as Gaugin, Cézanne, van Gogh, Munch and Turner influenced his artistic development.
In 1905, Matisse and some of his artist friends organized a highly colorful and bold exhibition. Art critics derogatively called them "Les Fauves" (the wild ones). But it was precisely this pre-Expressionist style that soon made them famous. Matisse became the central figure of Fauvism. He created many well-known works in this time, such as the painting "Le Bonheur de vivre", which caused Matisse’s breakthrough. A shining, boisterous colourfulness became his trademark. Extensive, almost decorative forms, in which the colours clearly dominate the overall arrangements, result in unique and highly expressive compositions. Matisse’s pictorial worlds are often influenced by his travels through Morocco. When Matisse is severely restricted and bed-ridden by a serious illness, he discovers new forms of expression that are more easy for him to handle, such as the collage. He cuts up paper painted with gouache and rearranges the pieces to form new compositions. After recovering, he creates one of his most famous works: the painting in the chapel in Nice. It is not surprising that Matisse is still one of the most revered artists in the world.

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