Matisse worked in several mediums and styles throughout his life. He is an artist worth to revisiting from time to time. This week we were inspired by his Goldfish Still Life Painting.
Henri Matisse was a French artist known for his use of color and his brilliant use of line. He was born on New Year’s Eve in 1869 in Le Cateau-Cambrésis in northern France to middle-class grain merchants. He didn’t set out to become an artist. As a young man in Paris he studied law. A bout of ill health changed the course of Matisse’s life and career forever. He discovered art when his mother brought him supplies during a period of convalescence from an illness. He said, “From the moment I held the box of colors in my hands, I knew this was my life. I threw myself into it like a beast that plunges towards the thing it loves.” Matisse’s mother was the first to advise her son not to adhere to the “rules” of art, but rather listen to his own emotions. Matisse studied at the Académie Julian. In 1892, he left the academy after an unsuccessful year and struck up what would become a long and fruitful apprenticeship with the Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau, who nurtured the artist’s more experimental inclinations. He once declared that he wanted his art to be one "of balance, of purity and serenity".
Henri Matisse is widely regarded as the greatest colorist of the twentieth century. Scholars have described Matisse as a precursor of Abstract Expressionism and major influence on much of modern art. He was heavily influenced by art from other cultures , incorporating Asian art, Moroccan design and colors , Islamic art, African sculpture, and Japanese prints into his own style. Matisse is a great example of a person not being defined by limitations and circumstances. Wheelchair bound and unable to continue painting, paper cut-outs became his major medium in the final decade of his life.
He first used the technique in 1919 doing designs for the Le chant du Rossignol, an Opera made by Igor Stravinsky , and in 1938, while working on the stage sets for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. He moved to the hilltop of Vence in 1943, where he produced his first major cut-out project for his artist's book titled" Jazz", which inspired numerous other projects and works of art using the technique. Ever evolving and adapting, Matisse said, “An artist must never be a prisoner of himself, prisoner of a style, prisoner of a reputation, or prisoner of success…"
Matisse continues to be one of the most popular and influential artists of all time. There are so many lessons in his work that are perfect for children. At first glance they are deceptively simple. This week we created Goldfish Paintings Inspired by Henri Matisse. After studying the painting, the students worked from their rough sketches with oil pastels to create a transparent fishbowl , and filled the interior with fish , water, and reflections. It took a lot of concentration and observation. To complete their pieces they added shadows, and plants in the foreground and background, all in under 2 hours. Not an easy task. Whew! I love their " can do" attitude.