Matisse Month (A Self-Learning Experiment)

Icare, Henri Matisse, 1943Because I'm a bit of nerd I'm trying a self-learning experiment here this month: I'm dedicating April to the study of Henri Matisse.

Not all of my posts will be about Matisse, but I've decided to give myself a timeframe of one month to learn about someone whose work appeals to me and capture whatever tickles my fancy here for anyone else who may be interested.

Like last year's Photography Month, my focus will not be the technical aspects or critique of Matisse's work. I don't have the expertise for that. What I can offer however are interesting tidbits of information that surprised or inspired me, new-to-me concepts or ideas and how I might try to emulate or use some of them in my own work, and hopefully things that are just plain interesting. As always, I invite you to take what you like and leave the rest!

I have no particular format in mind for sharing the information with you here; I figured I'd just set out on my experiment and see where it leads me. D. suggested "Matisse Mondays", I might play with that.

So why Matisse? A) I like his paintings and I once had a watch with Icare (see pic above) on the faceplate. It was gorgeous. B) There just happened to be two books on him at my tiny library branch, so Matisse it is. I've two more books and a DVD on the way.

PS - Those first two books are in French so I hope nothing gets lost in translation!

OK. Enough preamble. How about I start you off with a few quick facts that caught my attention:

~ Born December 31st, 1869, in Le Cateau-Cambrésis, Nord, France, close to the Belgian border.

~ Studied law, but started painting in his early twenties after receiving art supplies from his mother while recovering from appendicitis. He never went back to law.

~ Experimented with pointillisme early on with Luxe, Calme et Volupté.

~ Participated in a group show with and led a group called les Fauves (wild beasts) at the Salon d'Automne in 1905. More to come on them later.

~ Hung out with the Steins at rue de Fleurus in Paris (Gertrude and her brothers, Leo and Michael), where he met Pablo Picasso. The two became life-long friends.

~ Was a painter, sculptor, printmaker, an illustrator and a collage artist ("papiers collés"). A man of many talents!

~ Created his famous Nus bleus series in 1952, while in his eighties.

~ Died shortly after in 1954 at 84 years of age.

Back with more later, I promise. Stay tuned...