This is week 2 of studying Matisse. I like to research and share things in chronological order. It drives me nuts when I find some cool fact that I should have shared two weeks ago. But I’m learning that research just doesn’t happen that way, especially when you are pulling from so many sources. So midweek this week I switched to the idea of topics and looser timelines instead of trying to go event to event. And I'll just see how that goes for the rest of the month.
Matisse enrolled in a drawing class that met from 6:30-7:30 am before work. He attended every day and began to draw everywhere, all the time. In 1892, he announced to his father that he’d decided to devote all his time to becoming a painter. His father’s initial reaction was “You’ll die of hunger!” but decided to support him with a modest allowance so he could get started.
He began with lessons in Paris and soon decided to attend full time at the Acamemie Julian. At first he was rejected so he took to sketching on campus. The artist and then faculty Gustave Moreau saw his drawings and told him “join my class if you want to and I’ll fix it up later with administration. Moreau encouraged students not to copy but to “think your color!” and that “nature is an opportunity for the artist to express himself.”
When Matisse wasn't in class, he was at the Louvre or out sketching. He approached art school like a lawyer, very focused, very intense. He began with copying the masters and then worked very traditionally, mostly still life.
Then he started trying different styles, similar to Cezanne, Impressionism, pointillism. He was searching. He talked with a lot with artist friends. Remember... he was much older than his classmates because he was a late beginner. He found some success early, paintings were accepted into exhibitions, a few sold. But he was still trying to find himself.
In the spring of 1905 after much study and practice mimicing other artists and after much dialogue with his artist friend Andre Derain, Matisse created Woman with the Hat.... a painting that is now considered one the greats of the 20th century but at the time was thought to be an insult, “it violated not only the sitter’s appearance but also the audience’s conceptof womanhood.”
Early on, Matisse was in a relationship for four years with a model and together they had a daughter, Marguerite. He then met Amelie at a wedding of a mutual friend. They quickly married and had two boys, Jean and Pierre. Amelie took in Marguerite and treated her as her own, very unusual for the time. They were married for 41 years. Amelie was very supportive of his work, acting as model and assistant.
Here's a look at a few things I worked on this week inspired by my research. I made another family tree just to organize my notes and thoughts about that. I worked some more on this abstracted portrait that represents Frida Kahlo but the colors are definitely Matisse-inspired.
And then I worked on a couple of Matisse inspired pieces. I'm really enjoying that plant painting but it's taking much longer that I expected it to. I'm excited to spend a little more time in the studio this week finishing these two and starting a few more.