“From the moment I held that box of colors in my hand, I knew that this was my life.” – Henri Matisse
Bright colors, bold shapes, and expressive lines make the work of Henri Matisse (French, 1869 – 1954) some of the most influential — and recognizable — of the 20th century. Matisse’s career as an artist spanned more than six decades. Working during a time defined by rapid change (through social upheaval and two World Wars), his stylistic innovations fundamentally altered the course of modern art.
Matisse aimed to discover the “essential character of things” and to create art that expressed balance and serenity, as he explained in his Notes of a Painter (1908). His pursuit of each of these objectives resulted in work that often gave an impression of effortlessness, as if it had come easily to him. In actuality, Matisse persistently worked and reworked his compositions to find solutions for the way that color, form, space, line, and pattern functioned together.
Matisse, Life in Color will feature more than 100 works, including paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings. The exhibition explores the development of Matisse’s art thematically, looking at shifts in his style through the lens of his subjects over the course of his career.
Discover the range of his work across specific subjects, including landscapes, still lifes, interiors, and nudes. In the final section of the exhibition, Matisse’s famous artist book, Jazz (1947), presents his illustrations and shows the simplified shapes and colors of his paper cutout technique. Throughout the exhibition, visitors will be able to compare Matisse’s early experiments to his mid-career style and later, more abstract works.
Matisse, Life In Color: Masterworks from The Baltimore Museum of Art is drawn almost entirely from The Cone Collection of The Baltimore Museum of Art — one of the most renowned collections of Matisse's art in the world.