Paris in the early years of the 20th century was a hotbed for the avant garde and Henri Matisse one of its most revolutionary talents. Dubbed a “fauve” – or “wild beast” for his radical early experiments in colour Matisse rejected the notion that artists should present an illusion of reality. But he was, however, deeply inspired
by the world around him. From the light and colour of the south of France to the intricate patterns of Islamic art; from African sculptures to Chinese calligraphy, Matisse built up his own visual vocabulary
from his travels and the objects that he collected. In his prints and drawings, his paintings, his sculptures and his late cut-outs he distilled all this into an art that sang with colour. An art of sinuous line and form, simplified
almost to the point of abstraction. Like his friend and rival Picasso but in radically different ways Matisse gave us a window on the world that was distinctly his own and that left art transformed forever.