Henri Matisse (1869-1954) is without doubt the most important twentieth-century French artist, and one of the great colorists of art history. His work utterly refutes the cliché that the great discoveries of Modernism were attained by a heroic and violent abandonment of the past: he was firmly grounded in tradition (albeit in a much less restless and ironic approach than Picasso's). In the 1920s, Matisse's odalisques responded to European fantasies of "Oriental splendor"; during the 1930s, more classical themes of nymphs, fauns and the dance were treated in the splendid and sober Barnes murals, illustrations to Mallarmé and James Joyce. Permanently confined to a wheelchair from 1941 (when cancer was diagnosed), he developed his most spiritually uplifting work for the interior design of the Dominican Chapel of the Rosary at Vence, concurrent with his famous paper cut-outs ("cutting directly into color"). Sarah Wilson of the Courtauld Institute provides an introduction to Poligrafa's primer on this Modernist giant.
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