Henri Matisse

Reaktion. (Critical Lives). Apr. 2021. 224p. ISBN 9781789143812. pap. $19. FINE ARTS
Written by art historian Brown (Women Readers in French Painting 1870–1890), this is a compact and succinct overview of the life and work of renowned French artist Henri Matisse (1869–1954). Brown explores the artist’s life, from his early years struggling in Paris and painting in the fauvist style, to his turn-of-the-century success thanks to the patronage of the Stein family of American collectors (Leo, Sarah, Michael, and Gertrude). The book then follows Matisse’s travels to Morocco and Tahiti; his more abstract work, created during World War I; and his mature years working in the South of France. Brown situates Matisse’s art in relation to his own philosophy about making art, and his contemporary critics, and more recent discourses on the art historical analysis of his work. Though it is scholarly, the title is still accessible to general readers. Major disadvantages of the book are the absence of any color images of Matisse’s work, and a dearth of black-and-white images.
VERDICT While this is a good overview of Matisse’s work, readers will need to come into it with a solid visual knowledge of the artist’s output, or have nearby another reference with color images of Matisse’s artworks.
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