Meet The Masters

Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse

French, 1869–1954

“I don’t paint things; I only paint the difference between things.”

Henri Matisse took up painting while recovering from appendicitis. In 1904 and 1905, he spent summers in the south of France, where the bright sunlight inspired him to create dynamic works of vibrant color, a technique known as Fauvism, setting him on a career-long path that he described as “construction by means of color.” In his later years, Matisse reinvigorated his study of color through his cutouts made from brightly painted paper for projects ranging from intimate books to wall-size works, murals, and stained glass.

Let Matisse inspire your students to:
 - Use cut paper to create a design for a stained-glass window.
 - Paint what they can see from their classroom or bedroom window.
 - Design fabric with ink, fabric paints, and markers.
 - Use watercolors to design their own stationary, then write a letter to a friend and mail it.
 - Create a temporary mural in the classroom using paper cutouts.
 - Use tissue paper or color transparencies to create a stained-glass window, and then project it onto the wall from the overhead projector.

Books for students:
Matisse: The King of Color, Laurence Anholt
Henri Matisse: Drawing with Scissors, Jessie Hartland
Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists: Henri Matisse, Mike Venezia
Artists in Their Time: Henri Matisse, Jude Welton
When Pigasso Met Mootisse, Nina Laden

Web resources:
Matisse and Picasso, KERA
Matisse Five Facts, Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Inside Scoop: Fauves, National Gallery of Art

Find out more from The Museum of Modern Art:
Dance (I), gallery label text, publication excerpts, other texts
Dance (I), audio guide
Portrait in Seven Shades: Matisse, jazz music