Henri Matisse, ‘Arc-En-Ciel (Rainbow)’, 1946, Christopher-Clark Fine Art

Throughout his long and productive career, Matisse periodically refreshed his creative energies by turning from painting to drawing, sculpture and other forms of artistic expression. A great source of inspiration was poetic. The poetry or poetic prose Matisse loved was intimate, sensuous and personal. In his later years he developed the practice of reading poetry early each day before he raised a paint brush, pencil or etching needle. Matisse noted that poetry was like oxygen: "just as when you leap out of bed you fill your lungs with fresh air." This kept him young at heart.

In his lifetime he also produced more than a dozen illustrated books which were known as “livre d’artiste” (artist’s book), a specific type of illustrated book that became common in France around the turn of the century thanks to the pioneering efforts of Albert Skira and Teriade. These books, of which Visages is one and in which this lithograph was published, were deluxe, limited editions, meant to be collected and admired as works of art, as well as, read.

Pierre Reverdy began his career as a poet when he moved to Paris in 1910. He published his first small volume of poetry in 1915 and continued to write steadily thereafter. Gradually Reverdy became known in literary circles, frequenting the avant-garde group consisting of such well known artists and writers as Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, and Georges Braque, as well as Matisse. Though he became known to the Surrealist and Cubist circles, Reverdy remained independent with his art. He endeavored to find "the sublime simplicity of true reality." In his quest, Reverdy became a Catholic and retired to a life of ascetic seclusion near the Benedictine monastery at Solesmes in 1926. He stayed there for the remainder of his life, devoting his time to his poetry and his religion. The French poet and novelist Phillipe Soupault claimed that Reverdy "with Paul Eluard, . . . is the purest of the writers of his time."

Claude Duthuit 11 V

About Henri Matisse

Henri Matisse was a leading figure of Fauvism and, along with Pablo Picasso, one of the most influential artists of the modern era. In his paintings, sculptures, and works on paper, Matisse experimented with vivid colors, Pointillist techniques, and reduced, flat shapes. “What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter,” he once said; his subjects of choice included nudes, dancers, still lifes, and interior scenes. Matisse’s animated brushwork and seemingly arbitrary application of bright colors, as in Woman with a Hat (1905), would prove foundational to Fauvism, while his similarly radical The Red Studio (1911) was a seminal, nearly monochromatic study in perspective. Later in life, physically debilitated, Matisse would turn to making bold, cut-paper collages. He has influenced a wide range of important 20th-century painters, from Hans Hofmann and Milton Avery to Tom Wesselmann and David Hockney.

French, 1869-1954, Le Cateau-Cambrésis, France, based in Paris and Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France