Wonderful French painter Henri Émile-Benoît Matisse (1869-1954) was born on this day in Le Cateau, France. A lawyer by trade, he moved to Paris to study the vibrant art of Van Gogh and Cézanne.
"In the beginning you must subject yourself to the influence of nature," Matisse observed. "You must be able to walk firmly on the ground before you start walking on a tightrope."
With support from Gertrude Stein and others, Matisse became the leader of the Fauvist ("Wild Beasts") Movement of artists who celebrated bold colors and vigorous brushstrokes. His art, born of "the very nature of each experience," invented new expressions and freedom.
"I have always tried to hide my efforts and wished my works to have a light joyousness of springtime which never lets anyone suspect the labors it has cost me," he explained.
In later years, Matisse moved to the south of France, where sunlight liberated his muse and he was able to capture the passion and vibrancy there. "When I realized that I would see that light every morning," he explained, "I could not believe in my own happiness."
Internationally famous during his lifetime, his masterpieces included Joy of Life (1905), The Red Room (1908-09), and La Dance (1909-10). "Drawing is of the spirit; color is of the senses," he said.
"I don't paint things," he once revealed. "I paint the differences between things."
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