Born: 31 December 1869; Le Cateau-Cambrésis, Nord, France
Died: 03 November 1954; Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France
Active Years: 1890 - 1954
Field: painting, printmaking, sculpture, drawing
Henri Matisse was a French painter, draftsman, sculptor, and printmaker. Known for his use of color, his work is regarded as responsible for laying the foundation for modern plastic arts, along with the work of Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp. At the age of 18, he went to study law, working as a court administrator. But, after a bout of appendicitis, during which his mother gave him paints and an easel to pass the time, he began drawing, soon leaving law school to pursue his art career, to the dismay of his father.
He was exposed to the works of Van Gogh, who was practically unknown at the time, in 1897 and 1898, when he visited his friend, painter John Peter Russell, in the island of Belle Ile, which totally changed his painting style. A lover of all art, he immersed himself in the work of his fellow painters, and often got himself into debt buying the work of other artists. He received much inspiration from the work of other artists as well, drawing inspiration from such varied sources as Japanese art, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and Pointillism.