Henri Matisse (French, 1869-1954), the revolutionary artist of the early 20th century, is best known for his nudes, portraits, still life, interiors, and landscapes, executed in an expressively colorful Fauvist style. His vast oeuvre encompasses painting, drawing, sculpture, graphic arts, paper cutouts, and book illustrations.
Matisse, was a constant and exceptional draughtsman. Throughout his life he experimented freely with a diversity of styles, employing innovative composition, light, and brushwork to create his own pictorial language. As early as 1908 in his “Notes of a Painter,” he foresaw his own aesthetic path, writing that his art should express “the essential character of things” and “balance, purity, and serenity.”
As such, drawing, the most direct expression of the artist’s thoughts, helped Matisse work out ideas, and compositional and stylistic problems. During his lifetime he created several distinctive series of drawings, such as Thèmes et Variations, pen-and-ink drawings on the subject of the artist and his model from the 1940s followed by a series of bolder, contour line drawing in his later period.