Henri Matisse at the Norton Simon Museum
Along with his friend and rival Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse (1869–1954) was one of the most inventive and groundbreaking artists of the 20th century. After getting a relatively late start in the art world—he began painting at age 20, while recovering from appendicitis in 1889—Matisse swiftly took his place at the forefront of avant-garde art in Paris in the years around 1900. As a leader of the so-called Fauves, or “Wild Beasts,” a group of artists associated with shockingly reductive forms and a bold, unorthodox use of color, Matisse produced some of the most challenging and original paintings of his career.
The artist’s approach oscillated over the next five decades, as he explored broad, flat planes of color, dizzyingly decorative designs and spare, arabesque-like line drawings. Throughout, Matisse consistently approached art-making as an inquisitive process, one that—at its most effective—employed techniques that were expressive in their own right. As he explained in an oft-cited quote, “What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject-matter . . . a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.”SHOW MORE