Illus Blog

The Essence of Life: Henri Matisse’s Striking Portraiture

Henri Matisse

The Essence of Life: Henri Matisse’s Striking Portraiture

Portraiture was a vital strand of Henri Matisse’s art, one that he wrestled with tirelessly throughout his career. One of the primary goals he pursued was the simple, yet elusive ability to capture the essence of a character with the deftest of marks, a concept it took him a lifetime to uncover. “A portrait is a quarrel,” he argued, as he spent years working and reworking the same surfaces over and over, hoping to unearth the most basic elements that would define the undefinable. It wasn’t until his later years that he truly understood how to achieve the enigmatic, spiritual quality of his subjects, with a deceptively simple language of fluid, descriptive lines.

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A Living Art: Henri Matisse’s Boundless Interiors

Henri Matisse

A Living Art: Henri Matisse’s Boundless Interiors

Henri Matisse, The Swimming Pool, installation view in his Nice apartment, 1952, image via The Museum of Modern Art, New York   French artist Henri Matisse lived and breathed art, surrounding himself with sumptuous textiles, objects and artworks from all around the world. The decorated spaces he lived in spilled out into his paintings, framing windows or forming riotous, joyous displays of colour and life. He even came to see this art as a form of lavish décor, famously describing it as a “soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair.” Later in life, when confined to...

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