Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso shared artistic pre-eminece and popularity for much of the twentieth centrue, but there was a huge difference between them. AGainst Picasso's unrelenting showmanship, Matisse developed slowly and methodically, and never set out to be controversial. He once famously said he wished his art to be like a comfortable armchair to relax on a the end of a busy day. Behind the nude dancers and riot of colour, Matisse was an unashamed bourgeois.
Matisse took early training from Gusave Moreau (1326-98), who positively encouraged his student to question everything and to advance their own opinions, Matisse studied the works of Manet, Gauguin, Van Gogh and Cezanne. Then he explored Seurat's pointillism through Signac. But is was from 1904-07 that he got together with Derain, Vlaminck, Braque and other former students, to experiment in the vivid colours and exaggerated style that was called Fauvism. Matisse traveled south one summer with Derain to Collioure; and that was where he first had the idea for his painting, The Dance, while watching fishermen dancing in a circle on a beach.
After the Fauves, Matisse began to work with bolder shapes and strong patterns. Once he had moved permanently to the Cote d'Azur, his pleasure in floating bright colours onto canvas culminated in some of his most successful works.
As an old man, Matisse underwent abdominal surgery, which left him quite disabled. Undaunted, he entered yet another phase of creativity with simple coloured paper cut-outs, and so, often bedridden, he carried on making art to the last. He dies of cancer in Cimiez, 1954.