Two decades after the National Gallery of Australia paid more than $1 million for Henri Matisse's Oceania, the sky it has finally acquired its sister work for an undisclosed sum from the artist's family. The gallery unveiled the acquisition, a large-scale work titled Oceania, the sea (1946) by Matisse (1869–1954) which was purchased with funds provided by council member Timothy Fairfax.
Matisse's artistic career was long and varied, covering many different styles of painting from Impressionism to near Abstraction. Early on in his career Matisse was viewed as a Fauvist, and his celebration of bright colors reached its peak in 1917 when he began to spend time on the French Riviera at Nice and Vence. Here he concentrated on reflecting the sensual color of his surroundings and completed some of his most exciting paintings.
In 1941 Matisse was diagnosed as having duodenal cancer and was permanently confined to a wheelchair. It was in this condition that he completed the magnificent Chapel of the Rosary in Vence.
In 1896, Matisse was elected as an associate member of the Société Nationale, which meant that each year he could show paintings at the Salon de la Société without having to submit them for review. In the same year he exhibited 5 paintings in the salon of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, and the state bought two of his paintings. This was the first and almost only recognition he received in his native country during his lifetime.
Following an attack of appendicitis, he began to paint in 1889, when his mother had brought him art supplies during the period of convalescence. He said later, “From the moment I held the box of colors in my hands, I knew this was my life. I threw myself into it like a beast that plunges towards the thing it loves.”
The little-known friendship between a French Dominican nun and legendary 20th-century artist Henri Matisse is the subject of "A Model for Matisse," a documentary film directed by Barbara Freed, professor of french and applied linguistics at Carnegie Mellon.
The unlikely pair worked together from conception to completion of Matisse's tour de force, the Chapelle du Rosaire (Chapel of the Rosary) in the French village of Vence. Their story is the focus of Freed's compelling new film, the first she has directed.
Henri Emile Benoît Matisse was born in a tiny, tumbledown weaver's cottage on the rue du Chêne Arnaud in the textile town of Le Cateau-Cambrésis at eight o'clock in the evening on the last night of the year, 31 December 1869 (Le Cateau-Cambrésis is in the extreme north of France near the Belgian border).
Surrounded by a sensually poetic environment in his home and gardens in Vence on the French Riviera (where he had been in self-imposed exile during the Nazi occupation of Paris), Henri Matisse was able to immerse himself in conversation with his own feelings and memories, which he concentrated in familiar objects, models and spaces. Blue Interior is one of several small "Interiors of Vence" that Matisse produced between 1946 and 1948. These "interiors" were some of Matisse's last paintings on canvas.
The riotous colors of his Woman in a Hat and Portrait of Madame Matisse, both painted in 1905, unnerved contemporaries. His notorious Blue Nude—a fiercely distorted picture of Amélie reclining in a sunlit glade beneath palm fronds—seemed grotesque and obscene when it was first shown in Paris in 1907.
Even Matisse himself was sometimes shocked by his creations. According to his biographer Hilary Spurling, “His own paintings filled him with perturbation. At some point in 1901 or 1902 he slashed one of them with a palette knife.”