Painter, sculptor, and lithographer. Along with Picasso, he is considered one of the two foremost artists of the modern period. He began to study law but in 1890, took up painting, thereafter forsaking law entirely. He studied first with the academician Bouguereau and then with Gustave Moreau, His earliest work was exceptionally mature. He explored impressionism and coming into contact with the theories of Paul Signac, drew upon neo-impressionist styles. He began exhibiting in 1896 and at first was unsuccessful. In 1905 at a Mediterranean village Collioure he began using pure primary color as a significant structural element. He experimented frequently with different sorts of expressive abstraction, as in "The Blue Nude", "Mlle Landsberg" and "The Piano Lesson" but he rejected cubism in order to develop his own ideas. In 1908 he wrote out his theories for "La Grande Revue". By 1909 the his fame was worldwide. Matisse's early sculptured works reveal an interest in African sculpture. He designed for the ballet. His simple line drawings rank among the greatest works of graphic art of the 20th century. When he was nearly 80, Matisse volunteered to decorate the Dominican nuns' chapel at Vence, France. The largest collections of Matisse's works may be found in the Baltimore Museum of Art; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Modern Art, New York City; and the Hermitage, St. Petersburg.
Bio by: Jelena