Celebrating Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs. Installation view at Tate Modern

This 31st December as we look forward to bringing in a new year, we also celebrate the birth anniversary of the famous French Modern Artist, Henri Matisse.

Who was Henri Matisse?

Born in a small town in France in 1869, a lawyer by profession, Henri Matisse found his true calling during a period of brief illness when his mother brought him art supplies to help him feel better. “From the moment I held the box of colors in my hands, I knew this was my life.”

What is Fauvism?

Henri Matisse struggled to express his art in a revolutionary manner. He discarded the old styles set by his predecessors and explored modern art. Using bright colours and wild forms he expressed what he truly felt. Fauve means ‘wild’, hence the term Fauvism. At first his work was not accepted, the art critics and people mocked this new style of art. Gradually, they allowed him to exhibit around France, and his style was appreciated.

Matisse at work, 1952 © 2014 Succession H. Matisse

Drawing with Scissors

Matisse loved creating works that were larger, and wanted to move from the easel to life- sized installations. He developed a technique called ‘decoupage’ or ‘drawing with scissors’ that allowed him to do so, in the last decade of his life. When he was 71 years he was sick and confined to a wheel chair. However this didn’t stop him from continuing to love what he did. He experienced a burst of creativity and wanted to explore this new technique. Henri would painted sheets of paper in bright colours and cut them out using scissors in various shapes. He would ask then assemble a composition of the various cut outs, forming a collage, with the help of his assistant and create large works covering entire walls. According to Matisse, ‘the paper cut-outs helped’ him ‘to draw in colour.’

His final project using this technique was designing the glass windows of a Chapel in Nice. It took him 4 years to complete, and is worth a visit in the town of Vence in the French Riveira.

Contributed by Rishita Chandra

QUIZ ALERT! What is the name of the book that has 20 paper collages created by Matisse with themes ranging from circus to mythology to nature?

PRIZE ALERT! The first 5 correct answers win a Henri Matisse artkit by Know Your Art.
Create your collages and frame them.

Ask your parents to like and post your entries on our facebook or instagram page.



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