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How the great Henri Matisse, once in a wheelchair, drew with scissors
How the great Henri Matisse, once in a wheelchair, drew with scissors

Henri Matisse is considered one of the most important French painters of the 20th century. And all thanks to the fact that this truly strong man did not lose heart after a difficult case with his health. It seemed that when Matisse was in a wheelchair, it was possible to forget about painting (he could not even hold a brush). But not Matisse. The artist came up with a new innovative direction in painting - drawing with scissors. What is this technique?


Henri Matisse is an artist often considered the most important French artist of the 20th century. He was the leader of the Fauvist movement in the 1900s. In his works, the master strove for expressiveness of color.

Henri Matisse was born on December 31, 1869 in Le Cato-Cambresi. Matisse, whose parents were in the grain business, had little interest in art until he was 20 years old. The talent manifested itself thanks to the mother: she bought paints and an album for her son so that he would not be bored of lying in bed recovering from appendicitis.

And he began to paint. At first he copied color reproductions, and soon Matisse decorated the house of his grandparents with his drawings. Having finally recovered, Matisse left for Paris and entered first at the Académie Julian, and then at the School of Fine Arts. In 1896, Matisse exhibited four paintings at the National Salon of Fine Arts and was victorious.


He was elected a permanent member of the Salon Society, and his "Reading Woman" was acquired by the government. From that moment on, Matisse became an increasingly confident artist, whose fame grew exponentially. In 1905, Matisse, together with his associates - André Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck, presented their work at the Autumn Salon. And the result was … amazing. The public rejected the work. The paintings of young people were so rich in composition and color and they were so inappropriate for the perception of that time that they caused outrage among critics. Then they called them "wild". It was after this that a new movement of the Fauves (literally wild animals) was formed.

The sadness of the king

The famous 1952 painting by Matisse "The Sadness of the King" was created in the style of "Fauvism". It is an impressive composition of 292 x 386 cm pieces of paper painted in gouache. Gold splashes stand out against a background of purple and dark blue rectangles. The plot is based on Rembrandt's David Plays the Harp for Saul, in which a young biblical hero plays to distract the king from his melancholy. And in his painting, Matisse uses the theme of old age, looking back at the past and music that soothes all the worries of the master.

Rembrandt's works

Technique of production

One of the main features of the canvas is its technique. In Russian it would be more correct to call it applique, and Matisse himself described it as drawing with scissors. Having lost, due to arthritis and the operation, transferred in 1941, the ability to work in a standard way (standing in front of the canvas and holding a brush), Matisse began to compose paintings from pieces of paper, which he cut out of gouache-colored sheets with scissors and glued to a hard surface. A similar technique was used in their work by Surrealists, Cubists and Dadaists.

Matisse had only sheets of paper at his disposal, which his assistants painted over with paints.And the artist cut out pieces of paper with scissors and made a composition. Matisse repeatedly changed the shape in places, until the ideal result for him was achieved. And only having received what he wanted, he transferred the compositions with glue to paper, canvas or plywood. For the first time this unique technique was applied by the artist in the book "Jazz" (1947). The edges of the figures are uneven, since the artist cut them out arbitrarily, according to the will of the senses, without making preliminary drawings. For Matisse, spontaneity has always been important.


The picture can also be considered as a self-portrait of Matisse. Matisse is a central black figure, similar to a silhouette. The master seems to be sitting in a chair surrounded by pleasures that have enriched his life. He combined a number of recurring themes from his life. Yellow petals are symbols of wealth and love, they circle throughout the composition (like wealth amid sadness), and the green odalisque symbolizes the East, the dancer pays tribute to the female body and sensuality. And other pictorial elements are references to the events that determined his life. The rectangles resemble the master's past works ("The Artist's Workshop" and "Interior with Eggplant"). The flowers that adorn the guitarist's clothes and the leaves flying on the canvas seem to revive the dazzling visions of the island of Tahiti. Matisse visited him in 1930. Technique allowed Matisse to say everything an artist would say with a brush and create art that influenced other artists. In his work, Matisse used shades of blue, green, black, orange, yellow, pink and white.

"The sadness of the king" - the last self-portrait of Matisse, created in 1952 just two years before his death, is also one of the most significant works in his life. This autobiographical portrait evokes a painful farewell to the beloved aspects of one's life (women, music and dance). Many critics believe that the end of his work is the most innovative.

Other works in this technique

Yes, he developed severe arthritis and was diagnosed with cancer, which made his body so weak that Matisse had to move in a wheelchair. However, instead of simply accepting all the challenges of life and parting with the artistic craft when he could no longer stand and hold a brush, Matisse was determined to continue his work as an artist. He could no longer paint, so instead he drew pictures with scissors, cutting pieces of colored paper and gluing them together with the help of his assistants. Therefore, Henri Matisse is not only a famous artist who created many works significant for world painting, but also a hero-man who did not give up his hands in the face of life's difficulties. It is a living example of human power and talent for many of us. Alive thanks to its timeless and revolutionary works of art. The King's Sadness is currently housed in the National Museum of Art in Paris.

The paintings of Henri Matisse, the recognized genius of world painting, are now included in the collections of the largest museums and are sold under the hammer at auctions for millions of dollars. In love with the culture of the East, he repeatedly painted portraits of swarthy beauties, but in recent years, a completely different image began to appear on his canvases. It was the image of a Russian woman. So who is she, him Russian "odalisque", which has been in the service of genius for 20 years.

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