«In order to express form, I sometimes engage with sculpture, which allows me to move around the object in order to get to know it better».Henri Matisse
Henri Émile Benoît Matisse was born in 1869 in Cateau-Cambrésis in the Northen region of France and spent his childhood in Bohain, Picardie. After studying law and starting out as a law clerk, he turned to painting, and from 1891 he devoted himself entirely to his art. Although he failed the competitive examination for the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, he was accepted into Gustave Moreau's studio where he was able to meet many leading artists such as André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck.
In 1900 he attended the classes of Antoine Bourdelle, Rodin's assistant at the time. After his presence at the Salon d'Automne in Paris in 1903 and his first solo exhibition at Ambroise Vollard's in 1904, the quality of his works and the success of his portrait of a Woman with a Hat in 1905 enabled him to establish himself as the leader of Fauvism, a movement distinguished by the use of bold, garish colours, energetic brushstrokes and a joyful atmosphere. Matisse's stays in Morocco from 1912 onwards enabled him to discover Islamic art and he was deeply marked by the aesthetics of arabesque and branching, that inspired his series of 'Odalisques' and luminous 'Intérieurs'. Over time, he simplified and geometrised his forms, moving closer to abstraction. Between 1908 and 1912, exhibitions multiplied in every corner of Europe, with major landings also in Moscow and New York. He was awarded the Légion d'Honneur in 1925.
His masterpieces such as The Dance in its various and successive versions date back to the 1930s. In 1941, an urgent surgery debilitated him greatly, severely affecting his energy and mobility. To this period date the famous gouache wallpaper collages and pochoirs with which Jazz created one of the most valuable artist's books of the entire 20th century. An important retrospective exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art dates back to 1948, where many sculptures were also featured, testifying to his plastic research always conducted in parallel with painting. In the same year, he devoted himself to the creation of the Rosary Chapel in Vence. Many solo exhibitions followed in prestigious venues. Henri Matisse died on 3 November 1954 in Nice, in the south of France, where in 1963 the Musée Matisse opened, today the custodian of his works and, among them, many of his extraordinary sculptures.
Interview with Georges Charbonnier of FRANCE CULTURE (1950)