Matisse and Volkmar Essers

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Although Henri Matisse (1869-1954) is considered a central figure in the short-lived Fauvism, he was a loner, experimenting with diverse styles in his lifelong quest for decorative simplification of form and the perfect synthesis of line and color. After his Fauvist phase, he took up stimuli from Cubism or from so-called primitive art. He integrated into his work impressions he had collected on his travels to the Orient and Polynesia and did not limit his ingenuity to the flat canvas: he also created stained glass windows, murals, stage sets and costumes, book illustrations and sculptures in bronze, ceramics and sound.

Through increasingly flat, decorative and ornamental use, he gave color an independent existence and became a role model for everyone who was looking for new ways beyond depiction and spatial illusion. His art reached a final climax when, in old age, he could no longer paint due to illness and turned to paper cutting. Colorful collages were created from paper coated with gouache paints, lively improvisations of color and rhythm, 20 of which were published in 1947 under the title Jazz as an artist's book, one of the most important artist's books of the 20th century, the sum and culmination of an adventurous journey through life.

This volume traces an artistic career that, starting from Neo-Impressionism and Fauvism, ultimately opened the way to pure color field painting through ever more radical formal simplifications. He invites you to take a closer look at an artist whose influence on modernism can hardly be overestimated.

96 pages / Taschen Verlag

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