Henri Matisse


Henry Cartier-Bresson’s photograph of Henri Matisse is a symphony of ironies. The great French painter, known for his use of color and called Fauve (wild beast) is depicted in black and white, surrounded by birds and draped by a turban. The photograph does not show energetic, vivid Matisse remembered by many of his contemporaries. Although it is taken in 1944, ten years before the master’s death, Matisse was already a broken man. In 1939, he and his wife of 41 years separated. In 1941, he underwent a colostomy, which confined him to a wheelchair. His daughter is a captive in a Nazi concentration camp. The photograph showed all these ravages. Cartier-Bresson and Matisse remained good friends–when Cartier-Bresson published his seminal book, The Decisive Moment, Matisse drew the cover for him.

3 thoughts on “Henri Matisse

  1. It is a wonderful photo of Matisse, even though there are many sadnesses, Matisse has an element of peace. Bresson is a world of photography and we will never be the same after absorbing his lessons. He becomes to photography what Rodin is to sculpture. We stand with our mouths open, the rest is history. Thank you, for this thoughtful blog, well done!

  2. […] There was a nice gathering at the Polasek for Pierre Henri Matisse, The Other Matisse. As he was running late, with impending rain, we were allowed to see the exhibition on our own. Matisse is totally charming, funny, articulate and very willing to share. He abounds with energy for a man two years shy of 90. Amazing, when one remembers the state of his younger grandfather in the famous Cartier-Bresson shots. […]

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