Shapes, Colours and Mediterranean Influences
A major figure of modern art in the second half of the 20th century, Henri Matisse (1869-1954) made the “simplification of painting” the founding principle of his oeuvre. In 1905, his canvasses were shown alongside those of his friend Derain in an exhibition that sparked outrage: the colours used were considered far too intense. At the time, a shocked and uninspired art critic referred to the artists as “wild animals” (fauves). Matisse and Derain retaliated by adopting the label as their own, and the Fauvism movement was born. In the words of Matisse: “The idea at the time was to build the painting using coloured surfaces, and seek intense colours. Light isn’t suppressed, but rather expressed through a harmony of intensely colourful surfaces”. In the 1900s and 1910s, Matisse discovered Andalusia, Morocco and Algeria. His travels left a lasting mark on his easily-recognizable works, with their pure, flat forms, sometimes outlined in black.