“Color exists in itself, possessing its own beauty.”
Henri Matisse (Le Cateau-Cambrésis, France, 1869 – Nice, France, 1954), a leading figure of modern art, is perhaps best known for his expressive use of color, a concern that dominates the entirety of his oeuvre. Proficient as a painter, printmaker, sculptor, and draughtsman, Matisse became an artist rather late in life after first pursuing a career in law. While he initially studied in the academic tradition, his discovery of Pointillism led him to create more experimental works. The artist ultimately became a co-founder of the Fauve movement, which was named derogatorily by a critic with the French word for “wild beast” as a result of the use of bold color. In the fall of 1917 he traveled to Nice and began to create works that merged his interest in both figuration and non-realistic perspective, primarily creating nudes and odalisques. In 1930 while in the United States, Matisse was commissioned by collector Albert C. Barnes to create a triptych mural titled The Dance. It was subsequently exhibited at the Barnes Foundation and its expressive use of color and line had a great impact on American artists, including the emerging abstract expressionists. Upon becoming ill towards the end of his life, Matisse created experimental large-scale cutout paper works for which he is also renowned.