Coming late to art, Henri Matisse was nevertheless blessed by two factors: a tremendous capacity for work and a long life to see that energy mature. He came to painting from a preparation in law but seemed to possess an independent nature wary of influences and a willingness to explore directions even though the way was paved with doubt and disappointment.
Matisse’s innate gifts in painting revolved around color and design. He was quite content to produce near abstractions with a cross-referential color structure. His imagery was always approximately representational, and his spaces were never overly rational or splintered like those of Cézanne. His art reflected the attitude that painting is a superior distraction. It was his diary, his mistress, his labor, and his intellectual stimulation. Matisse’s worlds of the studio, indolent models, Mediterranean environments, and chromatic geometry were part of an aloof existence.
Basically apolitical, Matisse worked with almost total indifference through two world wars while maintaining his own world of balanced opposites, security, and comfort. Matisse believed that the audience for fine art is relatively small and comes from the educated bourgeoisie. Thus, for that audience, he strove to produce art that would have the same soothing effect as a good armchair for tired business professionals. --
- The Matisse Stories (Magill’s Literary Annual 1991-2005)
- The Unknown Matisse (Magill Book Reviews)
- The Unknown Matisse (Magill’s Literary Annual 1991-2005)
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