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Drawn to Lines

Femme se reposant, 1937

Henri Matisse (1869-1954) is one of my favourite artists. One of the Fauves, he was famous for his use of colour, and was known mainly for his paintings, but I in fact love his drawings, sketches and paper cutouts even more. The quote below from an article in The Boston Globe about an exhibition of Matisse’s drawings describes their elegant purity so perfectly:

The drawings of Henri Matisse must surely be among the most beautiful objects made by any human hand in the 20th century — or, come to think of it, ever. You look at them, you register their legendary ease and simplicity, and it’s very easy indeed to take them for granted — to assume that in some strange way they were born and not made.

Matisse’s characteristic line, at once classically concise and dreamily unmoored, has in that sense become a cliché, part of the visual air that we breathe. [Sebastian Smee, from The Boston Globe]

Arabesque, 1924

La Fleur, 1937The Handkerchief, 1935The Romanian Blouse, 1942I have been using Pinterest actively only for a year or two, and began mainly for the purposes of research. The more I used it of course, the more personalised my home page became: amongst a sea of vintage hats and fashion, out pop the works of Matisse, and in particular his line drawings, sketches and cutouts. With time, it’s been interesting to see the algorithms at work, refining my homepage according to my personal aesthetic. Obviously, the more Matisse drawings I saved – the ones I was naturally drawn to – the more I was shown. Then my love of Matisse drew in other artists who also employ linework in their art (more on them another time).

I don’t know how many artworks Matisse made – they seem innumerable, and he kept on working almost until his death at 84, but here are a few of his monochrome drawings that I like.

(All images found on Pinterest. I have tried to discover the correct titles and dates for each work, but searching in the Google is like looking for a needle in a haystack sometimes, and there are a few which don't include full information.)

Hanging branches, 19481942Tete de femme (Head of a Woman)Étude pour La Dormeuse, 1939Femme au fauteuil, 1941Lithograph, 1935Linocut; Sleeper with the long eyelashes, 1944

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