"I shut my eyes in order to see."
Henri Matisse was born into a French middle class family in the late 19th century. Although intending to study law, Matisse began to paint during recovery from appendicitis. The experience was enough to choose the life of an artist.
Matisse enrolled in several art schools, but grew dissatisfied with the confines of classical training. Influenced by Cezanne, VanGogh, Gauguin and Signac, his brushstrokes became more spontaneous and color erupted in his work. Critics coined him and other like-minded artists Les Fauves (or ìwild beastsî).
By the early 20th century, he was known as a modernist worth collecting. By 1938 however, illness returned. Following surgery for cancer , he began to create with the aid of those around him. Resting in his bed or wheelchair, Matisse would cut shapes from colored paper to form a collage, or gouaches dÈcoupÈs. He continued to create these simple yet dramatic works of art until his death at 85.