1869, Le Cateau-Cambrésis (France) – 1954, Nice
The French painter, sculptor and printmaker studied art in Paris at the Académie Julian and the École des Beaux-Arts. Around 1900 he produced his first sculptures; at the same time, under the influence of Monet, Cézanne and Gauguin, he began painting in pure, luminous colour. As a leading figure of the Fauvist circle, Matisse caused a sensation with the works he showed at the Autumn Salon in Paris. In 1906, after returning from a journey to Algeria, he produced his first woodcuts and lithographs. From early on he sought to transform three-dimensional, corporeal phenomena into flat, decorative designs. Initially, his interiors and still lifes combined three-dimensional, realistic forms and figures with ornamental arabesques. After the incisive experience of seeing an exhibition of Islamic art in Munich in 1910, followed by a trip to Morocco in 1912, he began painting solely flat areas of colour. He aspired to a form of spiritual art which was infused with peace and harmony, and which everyone would be able to partake in. In the late 1920s he turned increasingly to mural and architectural painting. In 1948 he embarked on his first paper collages, called “gouaches découpées”; over four years, from 1947 to 1951, he painted murals and designed decorations for the interior of the Chapelle du Rosaire in the southern French town of Vence.